Guessing Game


joseph_icon.gif robin_icon.gif

Scene Title Guessing Game
Synopsis Robin doesn't quite run out of twenty questions before he figures out what's ailing Joseph, who, instead of coming off of day six, is only coming off of day two.
Date October 21, 2009

Near the Grand Central Terminal

It's a cool early morning, with the air crisp and free of movement and the sun making brisk work in heating up the ruins of New York City. In comparison to the stale air of the underground, it should, by rights, be making Joseph feel better. Strangely enough, it isn't.

«Sumter? How's it looking your end?»

The radio at his hip crackles to life, and he can't bring himself to respond to it yet. Hand braced against the brick wall, head bowed beneath the oppressive sunlight, he focuses mainly on keeping his breakfast down. It's hard to tell if the nausea is meant to be here or if it's a result of everything else, down to feeling too cold in the bright morning sunlight and—

«Preacher, something wrong?»

Hissing a curse through his teeth, Joseph impatiently gets his radio in hand and leans against the brick. «I'm fine. I'm at— » A quick, uncertain glance around. «Corner of Lexington Avenue and 40th. Everythin's clear.»

«Yeah, okay. Milburn, want to go check on— »

«I'm fine. I'm heading back,» is Joseph curt reply, before half-heartedly adding. «Over and out.» With less patience than he remembers having, he cuts off his line and resumes feeling sorry for himself. Just. If he stays out here a little longer, then everything will be fine. Sliding down the wall, legs at a haphazard sprawl in front of him, Joseph wraps his arms around his midsection and focuses on breathing, as the empty, ruined street before him plays in and out of focus.

Forgoing a jacket, Robin is wearing his oldest jeans and a t-shirt with a random restaurant logo on it, and enjoying the cool morning. When the radio calls come through he arches an eyebrow, even though no one can see him.

Sure, Joseph said he was fine, but Robin has been around the preacher enough to know that impatient isn't usually part of his normal demeanor. Once Rob is done sweeping his area he heads towards Lexington, figuring he can meet up with Joseph and walk back together.

A few minutes go by… then a few more… and a few more. Robin decides fuckit and heads down 40th, looking for Joseph. What he sees is by no means what he expected to find; Jo slumped against a wall and looking like… well, like hell, actually.

"Hey." Robin leans down a little, "Hey, Joseph. What's going on. You got the flu or something?"

Knees bent with his arms rested on them, a hand to his forehead, Joseph doesn't automatically look up at the sound of foot steps, but he does when a voice matches it, predictably familiar. A rueful smile is cast upwards, Joseph easing back to lean his spine against the brick properly, pale beneath the sunlight (although what GCT shut in isn't a little pale), perspiration dotting his forehead where lank strands of hair stick.

"I don't feel so good," he agrees, before lifting a hand in a silent request for help up. His button down's sleeves are rolled halfway up his forearm, a blue plaid untucked from jeans, once nice brown leather shoes slightly scuffed and beaten from trekking in and out of the tunnels.

"You don't look so good either." The rudeness of the words is countered by Robin's smile and the tone of his voice. He reaches out and takes Jo's hand, pulling him up and then steadying him as he sways.

Worried now, at least more so than when he first saw Joseph, Robin puts the back of his hand on the preacher's forehead to check his temp. …Not that he really knows what he's doing; he just knows that's what you do when someone looks sick. There's no obvious heat wave coming off of Joseph, so Robin drops his hand and slowly lets go of the other man, checking to see if he can stand, much less walk. "When did this start?"

Joseph manages not to recoil, push away, anything other than stand patiently as Robin touches, though once he's done the pastor raises a hand as if in silent 'please' request, dropping it down in an arc as if to demonstrate that yes, he's on his feet. Arms tucking back around his midsection, folded tight, he tilts his head towards the way back, and starts to move.

"Yesterday. Maybe the day before, hard to tell. I know, I'm kinda useless like this, but…"

He isn't totally sure what comes after that sentence, what he's asking. Don't kick me out? Don't worry about it? Lord. A shrug beneath worn plaid, a hand going down to make sure the radio is secured, fidgety.

Following Joseph, Robin can't help but notice the way he's holding himself, the sweat, the paleness. All in all, Jo looks like he could fall down any second and Robin finds himself preparing to catch him in case he does.

"You're just sick, it'll pass. Don't worry about the workload, it's not like it won't be there when you're feeling better."

Trying not to be a mother hen, Robin shoves his hands in his pockets and stays in step with Joseph, who's definitely moving slower than usual. "Have you seen a nurse or a healer about it? Maybe there's meds they can give you."

Perhaps unexpectedly, there's a trace of bitter laughter from the pastor, quiet and to himself, at the word 'healer', and whether he's seen one about it. It's been several days, and most bruises have faded to slight yellowish stains like that on the fingers of a smoker. The other ones, the ones that impact slightly deeper— "No," Joseph states, as if remembering to respond. "No, I haven't. I'm kinda the suffer in silence type. Works usually. These things kinda go away on there own."

"Not if you try to work through them. Don't you need bed rest and liquids?" Robin shrugs one shoulder slightly, "All I know is what Neil says when Terry gets sick. Keeping him in bed is a nightmare."

Skipping forward half a step, Robin turns and walks backwards so he can see Joseph. "You really should see someone about it; what if you have swine flu?"

It might have been something to think about. Close quarters, children, fever fears. Joseph glances up from where his gaze is tracking along to the road to look at Robin, black eyes unreadable for a second before he again attempts a smile, wan though it might be as they move in their respective directions for the mess that is the Grand Central terminal. "You're worried, huh?"

He stops walking, a hand up to rub at his forehead for a moment. A wedding ring glimmers on the finger, bright gold and flashing sunlight until it falls away again. "This ain't— " His words hitch, a hand going out towards where a wall looms up scorched beside him, balancing himself as the world goes partially white for a moment as does his skin, sweat breaking almost visibly.

Whatever he was going to say, effectively snipped off and left dangling in silence. Cramps. This is why women go crazy once a month.

"Of course I'm worried," Robin turns to walk beside Joseph, because, really, how long can one walk backwards without tripping? "It's not what — whoa." Robin gets an arm under Joseph's shoulder and helps him lean up against the wall. "Yeah, I'm officially worried now." None of the symptoms are really adding up to anything Robin's seen before, and he continues his question from a moment before. "It's not what, Joseph?"

Despite himself, the support is shied away from, fingers scraping along the wall as the building is used for support in favour of Robin, an apologetic hand gesturing. There's anxiety in the angle of Joseph's shoulders, the lines and planes of his expression, steeling himself with a breath of still crisp morning air. "It ain't contagious. I just need— lyin' down. Would be a start."

Here's good, right? Maybe not.

Robin studies Joseph for a long moment. "Well you can't lie down here. So unless you want to hold on to that wall some more, we should probably get you somewhere with a bed."

He takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly, debating on questions now or later. "Not contagious. That means not the flu." Guess its questions now. "So that means… what? You know what causing all this?" He's been waved off twice now, so he doesn't offer Joseph an arm or anything to lean, he just stays close in case the preacher takes a tumble.

A self-conscious glance to where his hands dig fingers against the rough brick is sent before Joseph is steeling himself to stand on his own, back straightening. Another nod, as if to say that he's good to walk, and though he doesn't move slowly— desiring to be out of the sunlight, desiring to be horizontal— he does move carefully, his arms wrapping back around himself as if cold.

"Look— " It's not an answer, exactly, casually sidestepping the question as he draws a breath. "If this is— somethin' that'll pass by, I dunno how long, but— I'd appreciate it if I could stay in the Terminal, if y'all got the means to set me up. I know we ain't real ready for— refugees and medicine and the like, but I don't think I need much else other'n peace and quiet for a while."

He looks towards Robin for a second before going back to watching his feet, his features still pinched and pale. "I can move onto another safehouse otherwise."

Falling in stride with Joseph, Robin shoves his hands in his pockets, considering what Jo just told him — which wasn't much. Just enough for Robin to make a decent guess at what was going on. "It's not contagious, it'll pass, you need peace and quiet — which you can have here; I'm not going to kick you out."

He takes a long look at Joseph then focuses on the sidewalk in front of him, almost as if to give the man a sense of privacy. "That makes it drugs." There's definitely a bit of disbelief and surprise in his voice, but no censure. "What are you coming off of?"

Later, he might feel shame for the petty guessing game this turned out to be. For now, Joseph is more alarmed he wasn't better. It doesn't show apart from the silence that follows, stricken and heavy, throat closed off for business and the sound of scuffing, dragging foot steps underscores as the turning the corner onto Park Avenue, headed for the sealed off subway stairs going downwards into what, for all intents and purposes, looks like nowhere.

Before braving them, however, Joseph rests a hand on the steel of the railing, eyes shutting as he grapples with both whatever the hell war withdrawal is raging on him, and responding coherently. It was a simple question, at least. "Somethin' called Refrain."

Rubbing a hand over his face, Robin curses quietly. "Refrain? But that only affects… oh. Got it." He takes a couple of steps down the subway stairs, then waits for Joseph to brave them. Hopefully slowly.

"You don't do things halfway, do you?" He's heard of the drug — who hasn't? — but he didn't know that Joseph was a user, obviously. Him being Evolved feels secondary at this point, though he is surprised by that bit of news.

"So you want to get off it. Any idea how long it takes to do that?"

Following Robin's lead, Joseph heads downstairs, taking out a glowstick from a pocket and cracking it to light up as they descend down into the gloom. It's a pale, seacreature green, sickly but serviceable, Joseph holding it loose in his steps. "There's a story behind it," is the best defense he can summon up. "I'm not— this ain't like me. Anyone could tell you. But it is what it is and it's not somethin'— hell, not somethin' I can afford."

Money, health, his tone his ambiguous. He could mean neither, too. "I stopped a few days ago. I didn't think it'd be like this. Dunno what I was expecting but— not this, so much."

Somehow, for some reason, hearing Joseph say that this wasn't like him makes Robin feel a little better. Not a lot, but some. "Well. If you ever want to tell that story, I'm a good listener." He leaves the offer at that as they walk further down into the gloom.

"I don't know what you should expect from it either, I mean… from what I've heard it's pretty hard to get off of. Like heroin." He pauses to let Joseph catch up the few steps. "I'm glad you're going clean, for what it's worth."

A shrug, accompanied with a smile in the ghostly light, and Joseph follows along in silence. There's some degree of concentration, needed, to manouver through the rubble, to get down to the tunnels. In that twisting an ankle on his way to the subbasements would be more humiliating than accepting help, Joseph occasionally braces a hand on the younger man's shoulder until they can reach solid ground, where electrical lights gleam dimly, muting out the use of the glowstick.

"This ain't exactly what you an' your brother and all the rest need," he finally says, tossing the used glowstick into a plasyic trash can, before grappling with the radio to put away where it came from. "It's not what I came here for. I do wanna help out."

Robin puts his radio in an empty slot, and heads towards the supplies area, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Joseph is following. "It may not be what you came here for, but it's what you need now." Grabbing a few blankets and bottles of water, he waves one hand in a lead the way gesture, preparing to follow Jo to his room.

Hefting the supplies, he adds, "and you'll need these. I hope your room is far enough away from the lounge area, if it isn't we can move you some place quieter."

"It should be okay," Joseph says, leading off to where a corridor dips through the arcing tile wall of the platform. Down here, in the relative dark and the claustrophobia of cement, brick, metal, it's easier to think, easier to hide. Probably, there should be something said as to its similarities to the New Jersey prison he'd spent most of August in, but either it doesn't matter or he doesn't notice.

Opening up the door to the allotted room he'd claimed for himself, Joseph gestures around a little, as if Robin hadn't ever seen it before. The cot shoved towards the corner is comfortable, a duffle bag resting at the foot of it, a shelving area without much on it at all just yet. A light flickers on in a metal cage affixed to the ceiling.

Nodding a little, Robin comes in to the room and drops the blankets on the bed, then sets the water on the floor next to it; within easy reach. These rooms are standard to him at this point, having turned the spaces from rubble filled disaster to something at least somewhat livable.

"This seems quiet enough." He dusts his hands off then leans against the wall. "Someone's going to need to come and check on you… I assume you want to keep this quiet so it can be me or Neil, or whoever you want, but you can't go this alone. You'll need someone to bring you food and water at the very least."

Gratefully, Joseph moves for the cot to sit at its edge, pulling off his shoes without regard to the laces and letting them fall in neat thumps to the cement floor. There's a small, unexplained smile when it comes to the easy inclusion of Neil, and he wraps his arms around himself. "Yeah, uh." A shiver crosses through his spine, before he nods. "Sure. You an' Neil. If we got a medic down here, maybe— "

A shrugging gesture in the form of a head tilt, and leaves it at maybe. His hands come up to rub weary over his face, before fingers search back to undo the clasp of the thin gold chain hanging loose from around his neck. "Thanks again," is murmured.

"I'll see what I can do to find a medic," Robin pushes up away from the wall. "Maybe one of Shard's people could come for a visit. He's got a decent staff." He heads to the door stopping just inside it to point at the water, "Drink that. Stay warm." He flashes Joseph a quick, slightly dimmer version of his usual wide smile; "And you're welcome."

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