No Need For Forgiveness


helena_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title No Need For Forgiveness
Synopsis Helena knows what Joseph is going through.
Date October 10, 2009

Old Lucy's: Upstairs

Helena isn't the sort to show up unannounced - at least, not for this sort of visit. Joseph got a call this morning asking if she might stop by; once given the go-ahead, it's afternoon and on time that the knock is heard on his door. Helena comes bearing gifts: a plate of her lemon squares. If only baked goods could solve all of their problems; she really would be the teenage girl Martin Luther King of her time.

With consideration to the wildly different schedules of the three live-ins up above Old Lucy's, it's not hard to catch only one of them up there. That is, if you don't count the dog, whose heavy footfalls scrabble claws against the ground in response to the knock on the door. There's a cat and a bird, too, so theoretically a mouse and a bear could be added on either end to make it a more complete food chain.

Until you see the dog, who is almost a bear by her own right. Alicia's big Newfoundland head attempts to squeeze in between wall and door before Joseph is nudging her aside with a thigh. "Git," is the command that finally works, sending Alicia backpedaling enough for Joseph to open the door to Helena fully, casting her an automatic smile. "Hey. Afternoon," is the greeting, stepping back to allow her in. "Sorry, it's a bit animal kingdom in here sometimes."

Helena slips inside, smiling and seeming easily distracted by the prospect of a fuzzy creature. "It's alright. I wish I was able to have a pet, actually, but I have to keep moving and I often have to keep things quiet." And dogs are anything but, though cats might be a possibility she could consider. "I brought you something - I don't know if you like lemon stuff, but my squares are pretty good…" she looks around for someplace to put them.

Pressing the door closed once she's inside, Joseph's smile twists into something less automatic and more genuine, almost shy despite himself. "Thank you— I'm sure they are. Here." He puts put a hand to accept them, and tilts his head to lead her into the apartment proper, through to the kitchen. He's dressed casually, though obviously mindful of the fact someone is visiting - his feet are shoved into shoes, his jeans and loose sweater are new rather than a couple of days crumpled.

They can't completely account for, however, the fact that the man is clearly under the weather in some way or another. The downhill nature of fall before the winter could be attributed, a cold in the form of warmth and chills in equal measure, if no other symptom. Setting the plate of squares onto the table, he gestures towards one of the tall kitchen chairs in offer. "How'd Delilah's party wind up after I left? I didn't get back home 'til the next day."

"Um, pretty good, actually." Helena smiles a little as she moves to take a seat, lacing her fingers together and resting them on the table's surface. "Delilah let the strippers stay for cake, which they were so not expecting, and she opened presents. I think it was one of the better birthdays she's had so far. Where'd you end up? Somehow I can't imagine you wound up at someone's house, facedown with a lampshade over your head."
Situating himself on the other side of the table, leaning rather than sitting, Joseph keeps his tracked on the plate as he goes to take one of the lemon pieces, taking a bite from the corner of one and mouth twisting into a smile at her last sentiment. "No," he agrees, once the bite is swallowed. "Not these days, anyhow. If it was my eighteenth, it might be a whole other story." He shakes his head, and takes another bite. "I figured the noise'd get to me after a while, so I spent the night at a Ferry safehouse in Midtown. Well. Under Midtown. These are good, by the way."

"Oh, thank you!" Helena says brightly. "Homemade, totally from scratch." she says earnestly. "My mom's recipe. Why did you spend the night in a safehouse? Was it the noise? I think I know the safehouse you're talking about, it does in a pinch."

"No, not— well." Joseph's smile is crooked in apology. "A little bit the noise. But I've stayed there before. I'm gonna be packin' up and moving down there for permanent for a while. It ain't a pretty place to stay or even a little bit comfortable like this place, but they could use the extra hands. And it beats goin' back and forth every day, or wearin' out my welcome." Finishing off the slice, he wipes his hands of crumbs, straightening his back. "Can I get you anythin'?"

"Water? Or maybe coffee, if you've any." Really, at five foot two, she should realize there might be a reason she's so short, for all the coffee she drinks. Leaning back in the chair, she watches him solemnly a moment and asks quietly, "How are you, Joseph?"

His hands skim briefly over the coffee machine, checking its settings before dismissing it as a lost cause and moving for the fridge. She gets a glance over the open door of it before he's ducking to pick out a bottle of water, other hand up to ruffle a little nervously through dark, lank hair, his hands and movements as fidgety and anxious as ever.

"Weird, I guess."

It's an honest answer, an apologetic tone to it that it's not completely conclusive. Joseph busies himself with grabbing a glass and pouring water, before moving back to hold it out for her. "Mostly because that question ain't an easy one to answer anymore."

Helena accepts it. "I know." she admits, taking a sip and putting it down. "Is it still that part where when you first wake up, you forget you're not where they put you anymore?" Helena's expression is bleakly sympathetic. "It takes time, but that feeling does go away eventually." She talks about it like she knows.

"Kinda." He sets his hands against the opposite head of the table once more, leaning. "A while ago— I got hit in the head hard enough to make my ability go haywire. Ordinarily, I can only give folks visions and not myself, but between that and gettin' healed, the reverse kept happenin'. So, dreams— nowadays, there's always the impression that maybe gettin' free, bein' here, is the vision, and I'm still back there after all."

Belated and faint recognition has him studying the young woman opposite him, brow furrowed. "I'm sorry to hear you know what that's like."

"I was not a standard prisoner in Moab." Helena says levelly. "There was a Homeland Security agent who made me his special project. But I'm not telling you because I want your sympathy." Her voice is soft, and a little hesitant, like she's worried that she's gone over some line of comfort zone or civility or…something. "I'm telling you because I understand at least some of what you're going through. It's something I've wanted to tell you since you got back, and I know it's probably arrogant to assume I might be able to do anything for you, but if you did need to talk to someone who gets it, and who's been there…" she trails off, giving him a shy, bleak smile. "He was a telepath. I had a really hard time telling what was real, because he'd make me see all sorts of things."

As he listens to her, polite veneer and automation in the form of quick smiles and concerned eyes temporarily dismantles, which mostly leaves blankness and listening. To say it's more honest would be a discredit to Joseph's usual sincerity acted out in expression, in held hands and the smaller gestures, but perhaps better suited for now. Black eyes don't communicate much at all, and his mouth is in a line of disapproval that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the circumstance they're speaking within.

That last bit has him looking away, darting a look down to kitchen linoleum between his feet and silent as if not completely trusting himself to say anything. Helena isn't subjected to silence for very long. "Well they didn't have telepaths." Not counting Mona. Really not counting Mona. "But they had psychoactives and creativity. And a lotta lies. Like the whole— world they'd built up weren't bad enough, they'd fill in everythin' else with a lie."

His shoulders hike up in a shrug, looking back up at her. "And I think I met your father. Bill Dean? I didn't get many names but he introduced himself and everythin'. Thought— I thought— I'm sorry. It'd probably be best if I hadn't said anthin', but I thought I owed you knowin'. In case you had questions."

Helena does blanch at that. "I'm not going to pester you with questions about him. I got a very clear idea of who he's become the day I spoke with him on the phone. I hope you can look at me and see a person who wants to help, and not him."

This time, Joseph's smile comes easily, and he shakes his head. "I don't see him," he states, firmly and honestly. "Far from it. Don't worry about that. For what it's worth— " He raises a hand a little, as if a gesture could communicate that this is someone he, too, has been meaning to say. "You know well he ain't the man you remember. And I think— somethin's gone wrong for him. It ain't an excuse, but you should know maybe that I don't think you're really dealin' with a well man. That might be some comfort, might not be. Sorry if it's outta line."

Helena shakes her head. "It's not." she says. "I know inside there's going to be a reckoning. One day I' going to have to deal with him, face to face, and that's something I'll need to keep in mind. But I'm sorry for the things he did to you. I'm sorry for all of it that all of them did. It's not right that you had to go through that."

"No, it wasn't." The agreement is simple and not particular self-pitying. Detached, if anything, and he folds his arms around himself to stave off a chill that doesn't exist within the warmed apartment. "I wish I could pity 'em, to be honest," Joseph states. "That's probably what I woulda done, maybe, if I'd gotten out a week or two before. But I think I pity us more."

Helena shakes her head. "I don't know." she says. "I don't know if I could pity them, after what they'd done. My father doesn't want forgiveness for what he's doing, and I don't think I could ever give it, either." She peers at him. Bill has done far more directly to Joseph than to her. "Can you?" she asks. She's not asking if he will or would, but rather, if he thinks it's possible that he could.

The smile this time is strained, hardens the lines at his eyes, his arms in a rigid lock around his torso. "I don't think so," Joseph admits, with a glance away from her. What he focuses on instead is not definite. The play of light on the cupboard doors or cobwebs high in the ceiling corners. He's aware that it's not a particularly Christian response. "He'll have to make his peace with God, because he won't get it from me. And the only reason he won't is because he'll never want it. None of 'em will."

It's not a very Christian response, but it is a very human one. And Joseph may not need forgiveness for that, all the same, Helena does give it, even if only in her own mind. "I haven't forgiven the man who hurt me. I wish he was still alive so I could be the one to have killed him. For better or worse, he's had to do the same." She takes another sip of her water.

There's a stilted silence, for the time it takes Helena to sip her water. If Joseph can help absolve her of that thought, or agree with it, it doesn't show - but he allows her it all the same as he returns his attention to her. After a moment, he states, "My faith— it's one of self-governance. I don't forgive people in God's name, and that much is a relief, I gotta say. It's a lonelier path but it's the one I believe in. So you can take comfort that the telepath who did those things to you— he'll be made to repent or suffer eternity. Justice'll come. To everyone."

The Baptist faith is also not a cheery one, but then, what Christian denomination is? Joseph chuckles ruefully. "Listen to me, talkin' like I got a church to lead. I don't, anymore. And I promised you'd have a place to come to if you ever needed to talk. I don't have the building, but you'll know where to find me all the same."

"You're not going to rebuild?" Helena asks in surprise. "If not there, then elsewhere?" Then, "You know it's likewise, right? If you want to talk, though I couldn't blame you if the idea of talking to someone who was still a teenager yesterday by most people's count doesn't really suit." She grins wryly at that. "I think this is one of those times where the visit, at least on my end, was more about making sure you're okay. And to tell you it's okay." She frowns a little. "You probably already know this so it might come out sort of corny, but - whatever you're feeling is - okay, to feel. I hope you know that. I'm not a psychologist, but I do know that."

His arms unfolded, only to shove his hands into his pockets, a slightly level look of consternation crossing his features. He nods in gratitude towards her intentions as to this meeting, and contemplates the table just next to the plate of sweet lemon slices. "Truth is, I— " Joseph shrugs beneath his sweater, a shiver lining down his spine. "I don't feel much've anything. Kinda like the walkin' dead, most days. Abby thinks I'm bein' too calm about everythin'. I probably am. But I couldn't change it even if I wanted to."

And he's not sure he is, is the implication of a slightly reluctant tone. "I dunno about rebuilding. I haven't gone back there since they cut me down. And it's that self-governing thing I mentioned - not sure I'm real suited to bein' a pastor these days. Or even a precognitive. I'll stick to puttin' together medkit supplies and rebuilding the underground railways for now," he adds, with a wan smile.

Feeling numb, like the walking dead. She knows that sensation too, and she also knows it won't last. "You should do what feels right for you." Helena says, "And that includes whether or not you want to look into pinpointing what's gone wrong with your ability and how to fix it. Feeling numb is - yeah, that's normal, up to a point. I don't know how long that goes before it's something to worry about, though. Something will just hit you unexpected, and the longer you're this way, the rougher it's going to be, but I know, I realize, you can't make yourself do anything. It'll come when it comes." She looks down at her hands.

Normal, up to a point. Joseph's shoulders curve a little inwards, as if maybe there were a coming crash he could shield himself from. In a way, there is. It's not the one Helena refers to, but it's one that is within his control. Tracking the young woman's gaze down to her hands, he says nothing immediately - likely awkwardly so, but there's a constriction he knows beneath the surface, because everything is, and he swallows. Then, for want of needing to move, he shifts to pick up the small platter of dessert slices, moves to put them into the fridge. It only clatters slightly against the plastic shelving inside.

"For what it's worth— I don't think you were a teenager just yesterday. Or if you were, it probably don't matter. I can't speak highly of bein' one— a teenager— so it's probably not a bad thing." His smile is tight and apologetic, a hand up to rub at the back of his neck. "Thanks for— checkin' in. There're probably less exhaustin' things to do with your time, but I appreciate it."

"It's something I wanted to do." Helena says with frankness, and seems to take his thanks for a bid to adieu. She starts to rise from the table a little uncertainly, but if he's had his fill of her company, she's not going to be offended. "I hope you'll talk to me, but if you don't, you know, I understand. I'm a relatively new person in your life." She gives him a faint smile. "But thank you, for saying that about the adult thing."

He can pick social cues, and does, and doesn't gesture or speak to stop her as she rises from the table. Whether to let her go, or perhaps Joseph could honestly stand to think on his own for a while. Shutting the fridge, he nods to her, head tilting a little. "Most people around me these days are relatively new," he admits. This city of young women turned old by virtue of their experiences and men turned dysfunctional no matter how old they get.

The guys could stand to take some notes. "Take care. I'll find you if— " He shrugs, unsure of how to end that sentence, before settling on. "If I can figure out what it is I need to say."

Helena simply smiles at him and nods her agreement; that nod is fill of I understand exactly what you mean by that. And it may be that she does. "Enjoy the lemon squares." she says, and with a final salute, heads out the door.

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