If You Can Paint A Seahorse


joseph_icon.gif robin_icon.gif

Scene Title If You Can Paint A Seahorse
Synopsis Sleepless conversation happens underground too.
Date October 8, 2009

Grand Central Terminal

What was once Grand Central Terminal is now, in all appearances, laid to waste. The structural damage dealt to the topside building from the Bomb of 2006 meant that the building could not be saved or rebuilt, and much of what had remained intact has been demolished to rubble. For the most part it's an emptied husk, with the Midtown wind whistling through gaping concrete and iron.

But appearances can be deceiving. Access to the subways are no longer the obvious downstairs treks they once were, with most ways inside sealed off with rubble or locks. Most have better luck traveling the underground railroads, provided you know how not to get lost, or run into even more sealed passages. But once you're within, the world transforms - more or less. There is still an aura of industrial wasteland to the formerly abandoned underground levels of the terminal, but also an aura of progress.

Many of the tracks and other open spaces have been used as storage for the purpose of the Ferrymen, from crates to cardboard boxes full of supplies of varying kinds. There are medical kits, food supplies, water bottles, appliances, blankets, clothing - everything safehouses generally need are organized for easy transfer and exchange. Beyond the use of simple storage, construction is underway to continue to make certain areas livable, or rather, continue to do so - progress has been in the making for a while. There's a simple rec room, with a portable kitchen area catering to those here for the long run, a television (which gets little reception, but is hooked into a VCR and a DVD player, with a modest library), a card table, a few comforts such as couches and armchairs. A locker room has been converted into a sickbay, nearby bathrooms installed with showers and cubicles, and numerous rooms converted into semi-permanent livable spaces. The accommodations are as varied as they are numerous, some crude and some comfortable.

From the central hub sprawls the numerous tunnels used for transporting supplies in and out. The Grand Central Terminal is an immense place, and many areas are still untested - it's easy to get turned around, injured, or even trapped should the structural integrity of the place give way, although many pains have been taken, both supernatural and not, to reduce the possibility of cave ins. Many areas remain in varying states of fix-up all the way through to completely abandoned - it all depends on where you go. And there are many places to go.

Underneath the city, where tunnels and rooms and corners are alight only with electricity and wander of handheld glowsticks, it can be difficult to keep track of the time. Joseph had glanced down at his wristwatch too late - ten to nine, and with the early curfew imposed on the city, ten minutes is cutting it close to getting from the Grand Central Terminal all the way back to Greenwich Village. A quick phone ahead, permission granted to stay the night, and now

Now it's been a few hours. His arms and back ache from the sheer amount of manual labour that can come with working this particular corner of the Ferry operation, monotonous and endless in its nature if not actually taxing. To say mindless would be a discredit, because those that can't think ahead of them might wind up with a need for tetanus shots or go limping out with a sprained ankle, but there aren't any…

Well. There aren't any people. Not these days, no one apart from the workers.

Cold fluorescent flicker-flicks to life as Joseph presses the wall switch, the currently abandoned rec room flooding with the pale, artificial light. Unkind and harsh, the pastor finds himself squinting his eyes shut against the sudden glare, but enters all the same. He's either still dressed or redressed in his clothes of the day, a faded red shirt of plaid, partially tucked into jeans, his feet shoved into sneakers. Can't sleep. Can't dream.

Can barely think. Ruffling his fingers through his hair, Joseph heads for the portable kitchen area overdue to have something of more permanence installed. Maybe one day. For now, there's a portable stove, an electric kettle, and a water supply. The kettle is filled, Joseph crouching to root around for supplies for tea.

Robin was painting a mostly smooth wall, but not to neaten it up or make it match anything. No. He's painted a giant rectangle and filled it with very cartoon-ish looking fish and little waves. It seems his nephew wants an aquarium so what's an uncle to do? He's got bright splotches of paint on his t-shirt and jeans, but it definitely isn't the only paint upon them, and probably won't be the last.

He's just decided to take a break, mainly because seahorses are a bitch to try and paint, and heads toward the little kitchen area to find something resembling coffee.

"Ahaa-people!" is the first thing out of his mouth when he spies Joseph, but he gets over his surprise quickly. "Well, person, at least." He offers a hand, then tries to wipe the paint off on his jeans, only making more of green-blue-orange mess. "I'm Robin, and you're… Joseph, right?"

Measures of guilt, surprise, and suspicion all work in tandem to have Joseph try to turn so fast as to off-balance him in his crouch, a hand back to catch himself against the cool concrete of the floor, other gripping resilient to a white porcelain mug that at least suggested itself to be clean. "Oh— hey." Climbing to his feet proper, one knee clicking in protest and muscles more silently searing themselves from the effort, Joseph sets aside the mug to step on over, hand out to take Robin's and hovering in place when the other man retracts his to clean.

Fair enough. He smiles a little crooked but turns his wrist in a gesture as if to show he doesn't mind. "Joseph, that's right." The kettle is whirring somewhere behind him, filling up what would have been oppressive silence with the rather homely noise of water boiling. "Awful late to be paintin', isn't it?"

After managing to get most of the paint off his hand and onto his jeans, Robin shakes Joseph's hand with a quick flash of a grin. "It's only late if you get up at a decent hour. I, myself, prefer to wake at the crack of noon, which I got to do today for once." He explains about the painting, "It's a special project. See, my nephew wants a fish tank in here but painting one on the wall is as close as we're going to get. I'm trying to have it finished and ready for him before tomorrow."

After cleaning his hands a bit more thoroughly at the small sink, Robin finds a seat and nods toward the kettle, "Got enough water in there for two cups? I'm going to be brave and try the weird little coffee tea bag things."

A smear of orange still makes its transfer, and Joseph simply wipes that off onto a sleeve as he ducks down to retrieve still more cutlery. A mug of bright red, a couple of spoons, a plastic container filled with white granules of sugar that hiss like sand with the movement of being set down on the stainless steal surface. "There's enough for two," he confirms in his lilting accent - an actor like the other man within the room might pick it up to be Tennessee in origin, mild as it is. "I'm just glad I didn't wake someone up or anythin'. I'd say we could probably get a coffee machine down here, but then someone'll note we haven't finished fixin' the showers near the sickbay."

The instant coffee bags are set out by the cupboard box of teabags, one of the latter picked out and dropped into a mug, along with a modest cast of sugar from his teaspoon. "Haven't tried the powder milk and no one can make me. That's sweet of you, by the way." He glances over one plaid-clad shoulder, then back down to his task. "The painting, for your nephew."

"Powdered milk, ugh." Robin obviously isn't going to try it either. "I drink my coffee black, like real men. Or men who don't go shopping very often and therefore don't have milk or sugar on hand."

Shrugging a little sheepishly at the comment about the painting, Robin sets about fixing the instant coffee. "He's a good kid, and I'd rather paint fish than do any real work tonight, especially any sort of plumbing." Warily eying the coffee, he continues to chatter. "Speaking of late, aren't you around a little later than usual?"

"I'll be sure to do some restocking when I next emerge." A head tilt upwards to indicate the ruin of city directly above them, before Joseph is curling his hand around the handle of the kettle, tipping a measure of boiling water into the mug. His other hand grips his wrist as if to steady himself, shoulders beneath the worn fabric of his shirt tensing minutely until it's done, and he sets it on the counter between them. Stainless steel reflects off stainless steel, sending warped images back and forth.

Teaspoon rattling around within the darkening water, dissolving sugar, Joseph lets out a sigh to express agreement. "Yep. I don't normally sleep down here. I mean— " His head tilts a little, keeping near black eyes cast down to the steaming beverage in front of him. "Been thinkin' about it. But pretty much I forgot there was an earlier curfew than normal and got myself stuck. Didn't want to risk it."

Robin quips blithely, "Anyone who wants to shop is good in my book." But his expression is more serious than his words. "Good decision. To stay, I mean. The damage done to the Municipal Building has everyone spooked." He can't help but notice the way Joseph holds his wrist while he pours and almost questions it, but doesn't want to be too rude during their first real conversation.

Sipping at the rather bland coffee, Robin picks at the paint on his jeans futilely, more out of habit than anything else. "You're a preacher, right? How does your flock feel about the building being leveled?" He waves his cup around vaguely, "I'm down here a lot and haven't heard much of what people think… other than what they write in the papers."

Tea steeping merrily in hand, Joseph moves to sit down finally, huddling in his chair as if taking up extra space somehow would be rude. His fingers cling in rigid cages against the warm white porcelain, and he blows a cool stream of air across the dark surface of the tea. He doesn't react, really, to that question, sitting still for a moment before taking a measuring sip of the warm liquid.

"My church was the Guiding Light," he explains, simply, watching Robin's face for any recognition. It's not old news, nor terribly recent. Recognition found or not, he's returning that look to his tea. "So, not much in the way of a flock anymore, but I imagine they'd feel confused and like they're suddenly livin' in a war zone."

"Shit." Robin rubs a hand over his face as he recognizes the church's name. Luckily the paint on his hands is dry enough that it only leaves a few flakes of color here and there, instead of a bright smear.

"I heard about that, I'm sorry to bring up bad news, Joseph, I had no idea that was your place." Studying the other man for a moment, and attempting to get his foot out of his mouth, he finally asks, "you weren't hurt or anything, were you?"

Prying a hand off his tea, Joseph relaxes his palm into a placating gesture, shaking his head. "No, don't be. It happened and— everywhere I go, it comes up. Whether 'cause it's always at the back of my mind so I open my mouth, or it's all people know about me." His shoulders hike up in a rueful shrug, and he takes another long sip of tea. Quick to remember the other question, though, he gestures as he adds, "And no.

"No, I didn't get hurt." Which is essentially the simplest explanation, though doesn't much account for Robin's earlier observations. Both hands settle back around his tea, back curving as he rests his elbows against denim-clad knees. "Ferrymen have had more problems just like that. More deaths, too. I guess it kinda just happens sometimes."

Robin nods slowly and leans back in his chair with a soft sigh. "It may happen, but it's always harder when it hits that close to home."

Setting the watery coffee aside, he gives Joseph a sympathetic smile. "Maybe you can spend some more time with us, help take your mind off of it at least a little." Attempting to lighten the mood, he adds, "I'll even do the shopping if you can paint a seahorse."

That gets a chuckle, an abruptly bright smile over his tea as Joseph glances through to the other room. "I can give it a shot. Goodness knows I ain't sleepin' tonight." Downing a bigger sip of tea that's quickly become lukewarm than the sharper heat of before, Joseph sets this aside as well, plants his hands on his knees and levers himself up to stand. "C'mon, I'll help you finish up for your nephew. Sounds like a better thing to be doin' with my time than skulkin' around the place."

Standing, Robin is rather proud that he got Joseph to smile that brightly, and it shows in his own smile. "Sleep is for the weak." He offers the other man a hand up. "Come on, I've got a spare paintbrush with your name on it —well, not really because that would be creepy. I think if we mix all the colors together we can make brown. Or puce. Think seahorses can be puce?"

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