Heart Of The Matter


cassidy2_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Heart of the Matter
Synopsis Cassidy arrives at the Guiding Light to follow up on a favour to Abigail, and receives a vision for her troubles.
Date June 29, 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.

There is something about stepping into a church that can make your shoulders hunch as if the weight of God's eyes are suddenly on you, watching and judging. Of course, that might be the guilt that hits Cassidy since even though she believes in the Almighty God, she hasn't been to church since she was a kid. Only time she ever enters the House of God is for funerals anymore.

So stepping into Guiding Light Baptist Chruch, Cassidy's shoulder hunch and she gives an almost guilty look to the front of the church. Why did she come again? Oh yes.. she wanted talk to the pastor about the artwork that had decorated the church not long ago. She silent makes her way down the aisle looking for anyone that looks like they work here.

The artwork that has since been scrubbed away, never to be replicated since, or though time will tell if vandals ever try again, and somehow, Joseph doesn't expect to have won that war so easily. Humanis First! shenanigans, however, aren't on the pastor's mind, seated towards the back of the church where he's holding a folded over newspaper, letting it catch the light coming in from the windows. Articles about fires still burning over on Staten Island, about the FRONTLINE act passing, all of which he reads with a sort of distant sense of disapproval, much like one might observe a coming storm, trying to judge how near it will blow.

The creak of the front doors, though, has Joseph banishing these thoughts from his mind in distraction, looking up towards the unfamiliar visitor and trying to judge if he should be saying something. You leave people alone as they take a seat, sit in silence, find answers on their own. Other times, you approach when they step inside and glance around in expectation, looking for a sign of the more mundane kind.

Like now. "Morning," he greets, his voice quiet but ultimately carrying with ease across the space. The acoustics tend to be good in here. There's a rustle of paper as he folds it over once more, getting to his feet and stepping out from his corner on the back most pew. "Can I help you?"

There is a sense of relief when the man speaks up and Cassidy offer a slight smile. "Yes. I'm looking for Pastor Sumter. I've been meaning to come by sooner, but… " Her head moves back and forth slowly. "..it didn't work out that way." Casting a glance around she works her way in his direction. "Is he about?" she asks hopefully.

A smile, accompanied with a raising hand in something of a still wave as well as volunteering himself, moving back towards his chest. "That would be me," Joseph says, and he's long since given up attempting to force his first name onto people. New York City is just sort of too big, he supposes, millions of people in contrasts of a few thousand. So he doesn't, just steps into the aisle after setting the paper aside. "Pleasure to meet you."

"You? Oh.. Well… Okay. Pleasure, Pastor" Cassidy closes the distance between them with a touch more confidence, a smile on her lips. "I'm Detective Cassidy O'Shea, I am here on a favor from Abigail." She offers hand like any polite person would as she continues, "she asked me to investigate off the record what happened to the church earlier on, but my partner got shot and that kinda put a halt to anything I was doing."

There's no real hesitation as Joseph puts his own hand forth, shakes the detective's briskly even if he is distracted by what's being said, brow pulled into a look of mild confusion at first before smoothing out again. Rapid blinking at what is spoken like off-handed information, but Joseph mentally trips over it. "Shot? Goodness. I… hope you're partner's okay— I don't think Abigail told me, anyway, that she had spoken to anyone about that."

Much like the same sort of guiltiness Cassidy knew when she came in here, Joseph knows some now, of a different kind. He's about as shy of such things as non-churchgoers are of the Guiding Light. "I wasn't intending— I mean I would have called the police, normally, but I just figured— better not to draw attention."

Grinning, Cassidy gives a short single nod as she shakes that hand. "He survived and still kicking. A bit grumpy.. but well, that's him. Kind of part of the package so to speak." She'd probably hear about that comment later from her partner, since she can feel that presence in the back of her mind, like a tiny devil that sits on your shoulder and tries to talk sense into you.. oh wait.. or was it an angel. The image that brings, makes the woman smile a bit more.

She waves off the other thing as if its not important and shrugs. "I'm doing this as more of a personal favor to her and off the record. She… helped me, I owed her. But I wanted to check on the church and talk to you before I proceeded with an idea for at least putting faces to the guys that did this."

Joseph comes to push his hands into his pockets in a casual stance, nodding as he listens. His shoulders draw up into something of a shrug, before he loosens them again into their natural horizon along with an exhale of a sigh. A smile accompanies his words as he says, "Well, certainly, I don't see any harm in that, detective. Abby wasn't lying when she said she knew a whole lot of people who could help, huh? Would you care to take a seat?" He glances around by way of gesture - there are several hundren in the form of pew rows to pick from.

"With what she used to do, I would not be surprised that she has a lot of people willing to help her out." Cassidy inclines her head at the offer of a seat, moving to settle on on of the long benches, scooting down a bit before leaning back. A glance is given to the front of the church before she turns to face Joseph. "We have someone in the department that can… in a sense… See the past. " She crosses her legs and settles her hand on her knees, turning serious. "I wanted to bring her by to see what she could pick up from the day it happened. Sadly, anything she finds would be inadmissable in court," She stumbles to a stop and frowns softly as she pretty much says what her partner would. Shaking her head she continues, "but it gives us an idea of who to keep an eye on."

At the mention of adding Evolved ability into the mix— that gets some surprise from Joseph, a subtle show of it in his eyes and the slight tilt to his head, having come to sit down with an arm folded over the back of the pew. "That's— that sounds like a remarkable gift," Joseph says. "Sure, it sounds like it'd be helpful, at least— obviously. But not somethin' you could use in court? Any reason?" Asked out of pure curiousity, it seems, rather than real criticism.

"There exsists no scientific means of verifying a vision. It's worth as much as eyewitness testimony…" Cassidy started out confident in what she says, but then she realizes she's repeating her partners words again as they pass between them, even a hint of his accent. Her hand comes up to cover her mouth and she gives the man an apologetic look. She closes her eyes for a moment as she tries to sort her thoughts. Finally the hand drops, eyes open and she continues with a smile. "Sorry.. " She clears her throat before continuing. "..anyhow. With how people feel about those wth ability, that kind of testimony would be scrutinized even more." She gives him a strained smile. "So we use it to give us a kick in the right direction really."

She has his polite attention, and then— polite bafflement as she trails off, the twist to her voice and that particular look in her eye. Joseph mutely shakes his head to dismiss the apology, then twists his mouth into a rueful smile at her conclusion. "I guess that's fair. If there's no way to record 'em then I guess it's down to faith, isn't it? I do somethin' similar as your friend, only— in the other direction. Let people see what's going to happen, or— somethin' like it. There's no exact science for it."

"Faith.. seems our whole exsistance is based on faith in one form or another." Cassidy agrees with a thoughtful nod of her head. His words seem to grab her attention and her brows lift with her surprise. "Really?" She eyes him skeptically and frowns a bit. "No… no exact science for any of it." The detectve seems to turn inward for a moment before focusing on him, openly curious. "So you see people's futures?" Those words are said, oh so carefully. "I imagine in it's own way that could be useful." Useful indeed, since her future seems so… uncertain.

"Could show you my card if you like," Joseph says, with a wider smile, though he doesn't go to get it unless asked. "People's futures— aren't for me to see. But I can will people to have visions of their own, to see somethin' of what lies ahead. Sort've like road signs on the path you're on - symbols, ideas. It should be useful— depends on how open to 'em you are. Only ever helped someone of the law once, though, a federal agent. Not sure if it helped him any, you can't choose it.

"Projective Precognition," he adds, fingers tapping the edge of the pew back in a restless fidget. "'s what they called it. I suppose that's why we got tagged with all that graffiti. Some might object to an Evolved," and that word comes out a little cynical, as if the term isn't to his liking, "church leader."

"Huh…" Cassidy says as she tries to process that and brush away the fluttering at the back of her mind. Ignoring the warnings in the back of her mind, she gives him a small smile. "Would you consider helping another? I.." She pauses looking a touch embarressed to admit, "I have to admit things have happened to me lately that have left me feeling like I have no direction or… future really. I'm trying to fix the whole thing, but with no luck." Suddenly looking a bit sheepish, she adds, "I mean if it's not asking too much."

There is some surprise there, and only the slightest of hesitations, before Joseph nods once, coming to a decision. "I can do that for you, detective," he agress, and straightens up out of his more casual slouch against the pew. "It only takes a few minutes of my time, and it's the least I could do. I know you feel you owe Abby, but— I appreciate it too."

And with that, Joseph offers out a hand. Wedding ring in place, possibly a surprise if people are used to the more orthodox brands of Christian denomination, but then he probably wouldn't be wearing a pastel button down and beige trousers if that were the case. "All you have to do is take my hand and relax. Be ready to accept what you see, no matter what comes, or they'll— get confused if you try to shut 'em out."

Staring at that hand for a moment, Cassidy seems almost hesitant. There are in a way two people in her head, one that isn't too happy. "Shh.. I have to do this." She murmurs, forgetting for a moment to keep such thoughts to her partner internal. "And you know it." With that she takes a deep breath and reaches out to place her hand in his. Maybe it's instinct, but she closes her eyes as she tries to relax, ignore her partner, and let Joseph do whatever it is the he does.

The talking to yourself? Little bit strange. But a self-imposed peptalk is never a bad idea, and all. Joseph's muttered disparaging words at his faulty toaster before, how could he ever point fingers. And so his clasps his other hand over her's, and doesn't even need to bid her to shut her eyes.

When Cassidy next opens her eyes, it's not to the filtered sunlight of the church, but to bright, harsh lights of an examination room. Though she can feel herself be seated, she can feel Joseph's hands around her own, she can see that she's lying down on the shining steal surgery table with those overhead fluorescents beaming on down at her. There's a drift of a shadow, and she's forced along with the dream-like vision to turn her head.

She'll recognise Coren lying just beside her on the wider table, dressed as she is, all in vague white. He exchanges a look with her, and there's something peaceful about this whole scenario. A glance downwards adds a new element, a chain is attached from wrist to wrist, linking her right hand with Coren's left, and further down, the same goes for their ankles, implying physical movement together, walking together - sort of the opposite of what is true as well as a starkly obvious reference.

"Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great."

The words are a mix of Coren's voice and her's, and seems to come from every direction, although as she tilts her head back up, the face of a doctor comes into view. Identifiable as a doctor only in the whiteness of their dress, the mask, the hair kept covered, and it's hard even to tell if it's a man or woman.

"And such a nature is prone to love and ready to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other's sight."

Throughout these gentle words of entwined voices, Cassidy will watch as a tray is brought over. There are tools - locksmith tools as well as surgical ones, although the doctor's hand glances over the former in favour of picking up a scalpel, moving around to Coren's side of the table. There is no reaction from the man as his shirt is opened and peeled back to expose his chest.

The scalpel comes down with patience, and as easy as if cutting butter, the blade slices through skin. The drawn in gasp from Coren is understated, in a way, as if he doesn't quite feel the pain so much as he feels the invasion.

"Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night in one another's company? For if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt and fuse you together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul, instead of two— I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire and whether you are satisfied to attain this?"

As the words drone on, skin is stretched, blood runs like ribbons, and Cassidy will simply watch as Coren's heart is taken out of his chest, and split. The shining key inside it is extracted, shown to her, and with bloodied fingers, the doctor leans in to undo the lock of the chain between their wrists. Coren turns to look at her, and there's no pain, not really, but misery, grief, and emptiness.

"There is a danger that we shall be split up again and go about in basso-relievo, like the profile figures showing only one half the nose which are sculptured on monuments."

The chain is freed, but there is, of course, the one connected to their ankles, and Coren has no more keys in his body, and not the only sacrifice to be made. The doctor comes to stand over Cassidy, now, the bloodied scalpel raised aloft, hand moving to part her shirt. When that voice returns, it's only Cassidy's own as the sharp tool descends.

"Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained.

"At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way."

And then, she's simply looking at the back of her own eyelids, and listening to the traffic outside of the church.

As if she's been zapped by lightning, Cassidy yanks her hand out of Josephs with a barely contained sound.. almost on the edge of panic. Her face, paler then usual, quickly tilts down to look at herself, she presses a hand to her chest, pressing there as if she expected there to be a huge hole there. One she realizes she's whole, the detective suddenly relaxes slumping back against the back of the pew. Her hand then lifts to her mouth as she tries to process what she saw. "Oh… my God.." Eyes go to Joseph and she drops her hand. "Sorry.. I… didn't expect." She suddenly looks really scared.

Her hand was in his, and then it's not, and he starts a little too when she jerks away from him so fast. Good job, pastor, you scared the detective possibly away. Joseph's brows knit together in consternation, and then true concern and sympathy at the overt fear from Cassidy, and a hand comes up, placating. "That's alright, just— take your time." That hand drifts to rest on the back of the pew in front of them. "Sometimes it can really get to the heart of the matter."

Poor choice of words, probably, but Joseph remains oblivious. "Shake you up in ways it didn't expect. You're okay, detective. Don't have to say a word to me about it, otherwise I'm here."

The Pastor get's a wide eyed look, much like a deer in the headlights. "That… is putting it lightly." She rubs at her chest as she tries to figure out what she saw.. "I.. am not sure what I saw.." Or maybe she doesn't want to believe it. "So maybe I should tell you… but before I do, I should explain something." It takes her a moment, but finally… "I'm an empath, but my ability seems to have a huge flaw." Of course she'd see it as a flaw, "I ended up mentally linked with him.. I mean.. the whole package.. I can hear him, know what he's thinking and feel his emotions and vice versa. I've been trying to find a way to reverse it.. but.. this vision…" She chews her lip for a moment and finally starts trying to put her visions into words for the pastor.

When she finishes that little horror story she takes a deep breath and gives him a worried look. "What do you think?"

And so he listens, with a counselor's patience, professional and receptive stoicism, not so much blocking her out but keeping his own thoughts and reactions contained. Of course, when she's done— Joseph clears his throat, some ruefulness coming to the forefront. He can easily accept what she says, about her being an empath— he's been told weirder things— but his own visions, yet again, have a way of surprising him.

God's messages don't exactly beat around the bush. He wonders why he ever thought they might. "In the end, the symbols, the people, the words'll all mean more to you than they ever will to me," Joseph states, a disclaimer. "But I wouldn't be surprised if most people can relate to the idea of havin' your heart cut out. Sounds like— you find a way to reverse it. But…"

But. Joseph's head tilts in a reluctant gesture. "Maybe not the right way, if there is one." His hand ways again, less to placate and more to surrender, to absolve himself. "And— maybe it's not the flaw you think it is. Though gosh knows I couldn't— be in your position for awful long. I'd be finding a way out too."

"I got that too…" Cassidy murmurs softly, her head drops back a bit and she closes her eyes. Why her… Slowly her head rights itself, her words are soft and thoughtful. "The words I think scare me most I think." She shifts on the uncomfortable seat, fidgeting a bit. "I'd almost swear…" The detective trails off her eyes going a bit distant. There is a shake of her head as she tries to brush the thought away, "Probably, just my imagination."

Cassidy climbs to her feet slowly, and after wiping her palms off on her pants, she offers her hand again. "Thank you, Pastor Sumter. I appreciate you doing that for me, though I think I ended up with more questions then answers." Offering a smile, she moves to head out, only to remember the real reason she came there. "Oh.. before I forget. Is t alright if I bring this person by the church to see what visions she gets?"

Joseph gets to his feet too, moves hastily to allow her passage out into the aisle before taking her hand once more in an absent-minded clasp and shake. "Perfectly fine, sure. Just let me know if you get any word, I'd— I think I'd like to know." He could dismiss teenagers, bored children, but Humanis First!— implies more. "As for the vision— I get told that a lot. The more questions than answers, thing. All I can say is to go with what your gut tells you, and give it some thought too. If the words are what strike you—

"Can I ask why?" His head tilts, and an apologetic smile crosses his face. "What scares you about them?"

A hand lifts to run through the long lenght of her red hair, while Cassidy tries to decide whether to tell him or not. Eyes study him and then she shrugs. "Because… it described what sounded like the marriage of two souls," her hands lift and she presses her palms together, fingers lacing together, ".. into one." Her skin seems to pale as she says the word aloud. "Marriage…" She lifts a hand and moves it to encompass the church. "In the eyes of God… that's what those words said to me.. The deepest most divine sense of that one word." The muscles of her stomach clench with fear and worry. "He's my partner… it's a bit on the weird side."

"I can't imagine," Joseph says, sympathy for her situation reflected in eyes that are almost black rather than properly brown. "It sounds like— you have some working out to do with him, also. It was his heart that got cut out first, but yours wasn't so long after." And then he steps back in the figuritive sense, and says zilch on marriage, having simply nodded at her interpretation. "It's your vision, Detective O'Shea, and I hope it helps you."

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