Good Things


joseph_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Good Things
Synopsis Ygraine manages to run into Joseph before he can disappear from the city for what feels like an overdue conversation.
Date February 27, 2010

The Garden

Situated in a copse several miles away from the nearest stretch of asphalt, the Garden is accessible via an old dirt road that winds snakelike through the woods and dead-ends at the property's perimeter, which is surrounded by stone wall plastered with wicked coils of rusty barbed wire to keep would-be intruders from attempting to scale it. Those with a key can gain entry via the front gate.

The safehouse itself is a three-story brickwork cottage over a century old and covered in moss and ivy. It slants to one side, suggesting that the foundation has been steadily sinking into the wet earth; incidentally, this may be one of the reasons why its prior occupants never returned to the island to reclaim their property when government officials lifted evacuation orders and re-opened the Verrazano-Narrows shortly before its eventual destruction.

Inside, the cottage is decorated in mismatched antique furniture including a couch in the living room and an armchair nestled in the corner closest to the fireplace that go well with the safehouse's hardwood floors and the wood-burning stoves in some of the spare bedrooms. A heavy wooden table designed to seat eight separates the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, which is defined by its aged oak cabinetry and the dried wildflowers hanging above them.

Maybe in six hours, Joseph won't ever (never ever) see New York again. At the moment, such a notion is difficult to imagine, but he did wind up packing every item he has into suitcases and duffle bags, most of which he doesn't currently have on him, tucked into the back room of Old Lucy's in preparation to be driven to the airport. For now, he's made the arduous journey out to Staten Island to make sure that if nothing else, his dog will have a good home with willing owners for—

Some indeterminable amount of time.

Right now, he's tossing a tennis ball out front, highlight green against white snow and the darker threads of grass peaking through the ice. The large black Newfoundland dog that inevitably gives a kind of lazy bear chase leaves footprints in the ice, skidding tracks when she dives, turns, brings the ball back with more drool than it start with. Joseph is huddled in his sweater, jeans, gloves, the chill in the air making his features pinker in a healthy kind of sense.

Having ploughed along the dirt road, the latest arrival at the Ferry safehouse is spattered in mud from head to foot. The powerful bike is even messier, but as it comes into view the well-tuned engine still seems to be coping fairly well.

Coming to a halt, the biker reaches up to unfasten and then remove its helmet, revealing a pale-skinned brunette, who offers the man and his dog a cheery wave and a broad grin. "Hello!", she calls out.

The dog, resembling like perhaps she has some bear in her, lifts her head first at the sound of approach, tennis ball dropping out of her maw (which seems big enough to engulf the thing) where it lands in snow and doesn't roll. Joseph's arms lift up from his sides as if to ask the canine 'what's the deal?', before trekking closer to meet the dog halfway. It's around then that the biker makes her presence known, Joseph looking up and over, and then offering a smile.

Vaguely uncertain one, but it's there. "Mornin'!" he says, though it's hedging into noon, the sun directly above and bouncing its gleam off the white snow. He seems to be the only one braving the outside, though movement can be seen in the windows of the cottage directly behind him. "Nice bike."

The biker glances down at her steed, and laughs ruefully. "I'm not sure you'll even be able to see it by the time I've made it back to the road", she says with a grin, before chuckling. "I'm glad to find someone here, now that I've made it. I was dreading coming out here and finding no one in sight."

Stripping off one mud-spatterd glove, she holds out a (clean) hand. "Ygraine. Ygraine FitzRoy. The Sailing Club's pet British courier."

Stripping off a glove as well, which is less muddy, more slushy and dog drooly, his palm is cool against her's as he steps forward to meet the gesture, gripping her hand in a polite shake of greeting. A practiced move, and accompanied with an easier smile and the glint of a wedding band on the appropriate finger. "Joseph Sumter," he introduces. "I'd say I'm the token Southern transplant but we got a few this way somehow. An' this is Alicia," he adds, around when the massive dog is trundling forward to push her head against Ygraine's thighs, dipping down to snuffle at her shoes.

Ygraine looks surprised, and then very pleased indeed as Sumter introduces himself. She does, however, take the time to prop her bike carefully in place, then swing off it and crouch down to introduce herself to Alicia.

With her hands on the dog, bare fingers sinking into the hound's fur, she smiles up at the pastor. "I hadn't expected to bump into you here, but I'm glad I did. I've heard a fair amount about you. It's an honour to meet you at last."

The dog is happy for the attention, readily setting her rump down to grin with doggish stupid under Ygraine's affection, her tongue pale pink and lolling out over strong white teeth. Joseph's reaction to familiarity is a little shyer, eyebrows going up and his smile crooked. "I don't come this way too often, but I needed some folks to watch my dog for a while," he explains, peeling off his other glove if only for symmetry, and tucking his hands into his pockets anyway. "I hope y'only heard good things."

Cocking her head, Ygraine smiles gently. "Surprisingly, yes. And I can surmise a bit more. I… know Colette. Rather well. Have done for quite some time. I'm someone she's come to for advice a good few times… and I think that she's only taken two pieces. One of those was to go to see you."

The Briton looks down at Alicia, though her words are definitely still for Joseph. "You've earned her trust and admiration in a way I never did manage to. That in itself would be an achievement. But you seem to be nothing but a good influence upon her. And others who've mentioned you speak of you with the same sort of high regard." Lifting her gaze, she quirks another smile. "People light up when they speak of you. And I've just realised that I've probably mortified you with all this."

The heel of Joseph's boot kicks into the snow a little bit, a shy shuffle making manifest confirmation in Ygraine's last statement, although flattery is clear too. "No, no," he denies, hiking his shoulders up in a shrug. "That's nice of you t'say. Colette and takin' advice is— an interestin' struggle. Here," and he tilts his head towards the cottage. "I'll invite you in, it's a heck of a winter we're still havin'."

He starts moving off towards the house, with the expectation we'll follow. "To tell you the truth, I dunno how much of an influence I'm havin' on her anymore," he says, with a glance to the Briton. "Or if it's a good one."

Ygraine looks grateful at the invitation to come inside, though his later words turn her expression distinctly sad. She opts for a safter topic first, however, as she turns to stow her helmet in one of her bike's panniers.

"A few days ago, I was happy to get out in genuine _rain_. Felt almost Summery, in a way", she says with a rueful grin, before turning back to Joseph and starting towards the house witha grateful smile.

"As for Colette… if you're having any influence on her at all, then you're doing better than anyone else I know of. I…."

A heavy sigh as she walks. "She told me about Danko. That's one of the two bits of advice she took - going to see you. I tried to tell her that she'd shown strength, not weakness, by finding herself unable to pull the trigger on him. That I admired her for it. She… didn't even believe me that you'd see it that way. She felt guilty for 'letting you down' by letting him live."

Ygraine glances across at Joseph. "But at least she took my advice and went to see you."

"Thank you," sounds genuine, stealing a glance towards Ygraine with a mild smile as Joseph moves to open the door. "For nudgin' her to go see me, I mean." The dog seems content to lie down in ice, smattering snow on her black coat, as opposed to follow the humans inside. It's been a while since she spent a lot of time under the sky, and Joseph doesn't seem about to force her inside just yet. Indoors, it's much warmer, enough that Joseph peels off his jacket and hangs it up, leading into the kitchen where a box half-filled with canned goods sits upon the table.

Automatically, he sets about putting these away. "She did come find me, in the end, and you were right — what you told her, about that. That it's a thing to admire. I did my best tryin' to let her know the same thing." There's an unspoken but tagging the end of that, and he shrugs. "She's goin' through another rough patch. I think. As far as I can tell, she's avoiding me — and maybe that's okay, at this point. I seem to attract no end of trouble, and it ain't like Colette don't got enough of that herself."

Ygraine gladly strips off her own jacket, revealing a heavy but snugly-fitting woollen sweater beneath. Arching her back once free of the heavy leather, she pauses in that awkward position for a few moments, sounding more than a touch worried when she speaks. "She's avoiding you as well? Awww, crap. Have you managed to speak to her at all? I'm… far enough down the list she's not even acknowledged my existence since… the rescue."

"To be honest, I'm sort of— letting her get whatever it is she needs to get out of her system— out of her system," Joseph explains, gesturing with a can of peas before turning his back to tuck it up onto the shelf within the pantry. "And if that means stormin' around for a little while and yelling at people who care about her, then she can have time to do that. If it goes on much longer then I suspect I'll be huntin' her down myself. I wouldn't be— offended, I guess is the word. She's been avoiding everyone that matters, seems like."

Ygraine chuckles ruefully, shaking her head. "Want a hand with that?" ,she asks quietly, gesturing to the cans.

"In some ways, I'd be happier if she yelled at me. But…. Nyurgh. She… last year, she disappeared. Without a word. Apparently the reasoning was that by doing so she was 'protecting' people. But… she's also got a distinct tendency to see anything that goes wrong around her as being her fault - and most especially anything bad that happens to her. It was due to her weakness, or stupidity, or…. Whatever, her response to suffering seems to be to try to make herself suffer more."

Shrugging uncertainly, Ygraine sighs. "But I freely admit that I don't even know what's happened to her, or where she is, or what she's running from, or who she's hurt. So I might be even more wrong than usual."

Joseph makes a gesture towards the box, designed to communicate, sure. "She's been through things," is uncertainty and vagueness, the click click of supplies being set down a cosy kind of underscore to his words. Above them, there's the sound of footsteps echoing through the ceiling, and a murmur of distant conversation, but the furrow in his brow as he thinks indicates that his silence probably isn't to do with trying to maintain privacy.

Eventually, he shrugs. "I dunno how much you know about, I'll admit. I got taken by this— testing facility. Colette got in trouble with it when she tried to help out, and I think they hurt her. She's been distant since then, and she's made a point of avoiding me. Or I reckon she has. You can kinda see why I'm worried that I'm not the best of influences, huh?"

"As best I can make out, she was throwing herself into harm's way long before your capture", Ygraine says gently, but there's a fair amount of intensity in her gaze as she tries to catch Joseph's eye. "I've seen some of her range of scars. She was… attempting to prove herself already. Even if it had been someone else, she'd have gone in to try to stage a rescue."

Pausing with her hands on a couple of cans she's just set in place, Ygraine slowly shakes her head. "To the best of my knowledge, you are nothing but a good influence on her. I've tried to be that… but you've actually managed it. Don't blame yourself for not having managed to guide her to complete equilibrium. From all I've seen, you've done more for her in that regard than anyone else."

Likely a week or change ago, Joseph might have avoided making eye contact, but he doesn't, now, quietly attentive and focused before he lets a half smile play out, hands fidgeting on the edge of the cardboard box before he extracts a plastic bag of brown sugar, passing it from hand to hand before holding it out for her to take. "For all that that girl can't stop runnin' into trouble and drama, it's good she's got friends like you too," he says. "Even if she don't listen to 'em like she should. Maybe it's the kinda thing you grow into."

His hands dip back down into the box, lifting out a cardboard box of teabags, which he takes with him to the kitchen counter, to fill up an empty tin waiting for it. "Seein' as I'm takin' your word for it," he says, with a wry chuckle, "you're gonna have to go ahead and trust me when I say I don't think you're all that low down the list. She's just young and careless. I'll remember that, though.

"I got a flight out to home this evening, but maybe I can try an' catch her before I take off. I ain't sure how soon I'm comin' back," he adds, as he rattles the teabags into the tin, glance at Ygraine past his shoulder.

Ygraine belatedly remembers to take her hands off the cans, in order to accept the bag of sugar. It gets put away, though the randomly-grabbed box of crackers is absent-mindedly held onto as she responds. "I live two floors above her father. Her 'official' home. She's had multiple ways of contacting me for well over a year now… but neither time she's decided to… withdraw have I received a call, a note, or anything else."

Turning, Ygraine tucks the cracks into an available space. "But I still love her, and want to protect her", she says, sounding a touch sheepish. "So if there's anything you'd like me to tell her, or do for her, just ask." Looking around, she offers a lop-sided smile. "Though I know that she won't be alone in wanting you to come back as soon as you're ready to do so."

"I'm sorry," is what he feels fit to say, as if on the girl's behalf, when Ygraine talks about Colette's retreat, casting her a rueful smile as Joseph picks out the last of the cans, mostly vegetables. A slightly sheepish shrug follows, distracted by the actions of his own hands as he puts things away, as opposed to addressing the Briton directly. "I wouldn't know what kinda message to leave — if I think of somethin', I'll let you know, though. I'd say to tell her when I'll be back, but I don't rightly know exactly when that'll be. Kind of depends on how the trip goes. It's been an interestin' year, up this way."

"I know", Ygraine says gently. "And you've had one worse by far than most of us. I can't blame you in the slightest for wanting to have a chance to let your own thoughts settle."

Closing the cupboard, she cocks her head, expression thoughtful. "Would it be accurate to say that your thoughts will be with her?", she enquires. "Something like that might… reassure her, when she's ready to let anyone do such a thing."

Another smile, as if slightly ashamed he didn't think of it first, but Joseph nods. "Yeah. That would be okay. And tell 'er that… I guess you can go and tell her that I'll see her around, one way or another. So she don't think I'm takin' off because of her or somethin' so foolish." Because it's like Ygraine says — the girl blames herself for most things, in typical teenage fervour and short-sightedness.

Ygraine nods quickly. "If she's determined to think that, she'll do so whatever I say. But… I can try to pre-empt it. Or talk her out of it. Ummm. Do you know how she responds to religion? I'd hazard a guess that you'll probably be praying for her, too - but I've no idea if she'd like to hear that or not. I've never dared tell her that I do, in case it turns out to be one of her triggers."

"I'll admit that whatever it is had us bein' friends," Joseph says, now with a brighter, somewhat rueful smile, "it probably hadn't anythin' to do with my bein' a pastor. Best just to keep the sen'iments secular, in case she goes and takes offense. If there's one thing I can take with me from bein' up here, it's knowing how strange some folks react to religion. Like it's a nice way to frame pity, I guess. If you know what I mean when I said that."

Tossing the emptied box aside, he shrugs, and ducks his hands into his sweater pockets. "You can tell her I'm worried about her. That's honest enough, I think."

Ygraine winces slightly, offering Joseph a sympathetic look. "I… have family ties to Northern Ireland", she says by way of a somewhat oblique reply. "The idea that people can react in the most bewildering and dreadful ways to religion is all too familiar.. as are the things that people think their own faith can justify."

She gently shakes her head, turning to prop her rump against the wall, hands tucked behind her back. "I'm used to hiding quite what my ideals are - having ideals in the first place seems bizarre enough to many people. Let alone being educated and doing so."

"For me it's less about hiding them as it is being polite about 'em," Joseph admits with a flicker of a smile, though it dims when he adds, "If you don't count the church burnin' and all. I guess that's a good reminder about what happens if you flaunt your ideals too loud, huh? At least the Ferry is kinda— " He splays his hands as he searches for the words. "Hands on. Doin' things. Less about spreadin' the word to people who would rather not hear it and more about helpin' those who do. I can take a leaf outta that book if I go ahead and rebuild some day."

"I hope that you do", Ygraine says with quiet sincerity. "But I know that callings can take people in unexpected directions. I certainly had no intention of winding up involved with any sort of underground when I returned to New York to face down my demons. But… it turned out that I could get involved in things affecting many more people than I had ever thought."

The Briton gently shakes her head, then cants it to one side as she studies Joseph, lips curled into a slight smile. "You've contributed a lot to it, whatever you do in future. I run around trying to be useful, and hoping that people think that they can count on me. From the way I've heard you talked about, you've inspired people. Reminded them - or helped them to realise in the first place - that there's more to what the Ferry does than merely hide fugitives from the law or keep an eye on people trying to hurt Evolved. Even the most despicable of street-gangs can do that for anyone identify as their own kind: the Ferry's something more. And… it needs to remember that it has those ideals. That it has that soul."

He grows quiet when she talks, hands back to fidgeting with sleeves and dark eyes peering at the Briton curiously before seeking out the surface of the nearby table instead, as if abashed or avoidant. Startled, would be a better descriptor, especially towards the end as Joseph steers a look back up at her, and offers a smile, and then a single nod, slightly bird-like. "Thank you," he adds, and means it, but meaning seems to equate running out of things to say as he processes what count as the right words from the woman he's just met.

Inevitably, he also comes up with, "That mighta been somethin' I needed to hear and take with me when I go."

It's Ygraine's turn to bashfully avert her gaze and study the table, though she adds a delicate blush to her abashed demeanour. "You're welcome", she murmurs, peeping up at the pastor, before mustering a rather impish little smile. "I told you that I'd heard good things about you."

Soft laughter, some small amount of tension breaking, Joseph jolting a shrug with a wider grin. "Well I can't say I'm livin' up to that what with my takin' off back to Tennessee and all, but I have a feelin' I ain't stayin' away so long. I had a friend who tried it, and he said that— well. He gave me the impression that this city and everythin' in it don't let you go so easy, and I'm inclined to believe him. Careful, or you'll find yourself caught up in it too."

Ygraine adds soft laughter of her own, then somewhat sheepishly shrugs and shakes her head. "Oh… I've been nuked here. Concussed. Shot at. Nearly died. But aren't the most damaged places the ones that need the most help? I admit that I'd expect you to return, too - anything that could keep you away in the long term would need to be impressive in its own right, I think…."

Quirking another smile, she fixes Joseph with a half-serious and rather intent look. "But don't fall into the sort of trap that Colette might. Taking time to heal is wise, not selfish. When you're ready to return, I think that you'll know."

"I think so too," Joseph agrees, mirroring back her smile as he idles back a step, squares his balance again. "I wasn't doin' it so well down in— at one've the safehouses they had me laid up in. They say country air does wonders, so, there you go." He takes his weight off the table, from where he'd rested a hip to its corner, tile making none of the creaking that floorboards by the front door do. "I should go see that my dog's not digging up whatever's determined to grow, in this weather, and see she's good t'come in for the day. But it was nice meetin' you."

Ygraine pushes off the wall, nodding to him. "A chance to breathe can do wonders, and the sights and sounds of home can heal in ways that nothing else can", she says with the sort of certainty that might come from experience rather than mere acceptance of platitudes.

Holding out a hand again, she smiles with a warmth matched by her eyes. "It was a pleasure."

Joseph engulfs her hand with two in a warm kind of clasp of departure, offering her a smile. "Likewise. I'll see you around," he promises, before he's shifting off and outward. A rope leash is picked up off a counter as he goes, a jangle of the collar ringing out and following as he makes for out proper with only slight footprints of melting ice in his wake.

Ygraine watches him go, expression an odd mix of happiness and pensiveness. Then she gathers her wits with a shake of her head, and sets the kettle to boiling en route to fetching the bundle of post that provided her initial reason for visiting. Still, her lips retain a slight smile as she does so.

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