On The Backs Of What If's


abby_icon.gif amato_icon.gif

Scene Title On The Backs Of What If's.
Synopsis Something perhaps unforgivable passes, in a confessional, between a Catholic and a Baptist.
Date August 4, 2010

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 — true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events — most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone — non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

Summer afternoons see the Cathedral of St. John the Divine the vessel of tourists as well as parishioners, and so Amato sits in one of the confessionals, his head in his hands. On the seat between his legs rests the cigarette taken from the Rookery's streets, the cigarette that may hold the key to the man he swears he has seen before.

At least the cathedral is cooler than it is outside, and the shadows of the confessional offer more protection from the sun's rays, even if they do come into the church through the filter of stained glass. Abby wanted to see him, and this place is perhaps best. He gave her instructions as to which confessional he would tuck himself into, but he's lost track of the time, sitting there lost in his own thoughts.

Baptists do not go into confessionals.

That doesn't mean that she won't go into one, and doesn't look very uncomfortable doing so, like it might be a violation of some theological rule about baptists and catholics and houses of the holy. But the adjacent tall box is occupied by the blonde, easing in and closing the door behind her, "Amato?" trying to purposefully peer through the grate and see if she's got the right one. "I have to confess, and no, no pun intended, that I have never stepped foot inside something like this"

Amato lifts his head and turns to look through the intricately carved wood, seeing what must be Abby on the other side. "It is a box, Abigail. Nothing more. It is the act that gives a place meaning." He reaches down to take the cigarette carefully into his hand and place it in the inside pocket of his sport coat - a black one today, worn over a white dress shirt with an open collar.

"You wanted to speak. This is a place for speaking, if you only consider it's design."

"I did. While I was streaking through Staten Island with Eileen after helping her rummage for medicines, I had time to think." Do not ask Amato. Do not ask at all. Abigail shifts, getting comfortable and looking through the ornate grille that seperates her from Amato. "And while driving over here, time to think more, can I see the cigarette?" She'd seen him tuck it away.

There is silence for a moment, and Amato leans closer to the grille - close enough for Abby to see the confused brand of scowl on his face. "Streaking? With Eileen?" His whisper is a hiss of parental anger. "What in God's name are you talking about, Abigail? I demand to know! Since when does looking for supplies entail running naked through Staten Island of all places?!"

"The kind where something cold and icy comes through a basement wall while we're searching for abandoned medical supplies in a hospital out there and I loose control and turn into holy fire Amato and all my clothes burn" She replies, a bit surprised by the attitude that roils off him. 'That's what ends up with that. The lord giveth and the lord taketh away. He took away healing Amato Salucci and gave me basptismal fire in return"

Her face up near the grille, unsure of whether to be upset that he's upset with her or.. something else. "Eileen was fully clothed"

Amato sits there, staring back at Abigail for a moment before his eyes start to dart this way and that. "I am…glad to see you safe," he says at last, followed by a swallow. He leans away and retrieves the cigarette from his coat, handling it as carefully as ever. He holds it up to the grille and catches Abby's gaze with his own. "Do be careful with it."

Be careful with it.

"Is there a specific part of it that I shouldn't touch? Or is it just the object that you need?"

If only he knew what she was going to do with it, what she'd decided on. Long slender fingers lift to rest against the grille where he's holding it up but hasn't pushed it through. "Can't have been any worse in truth Amato, Eileen was… well, if I have to come out of being fire and naked as the day the lord made me, at least it is with her. First time it happened, I understand there were about… twenty firemen? Thank the lord I was unconscious and unaware."

So Abby catches fire now. Amato squints at her. "Why do you want it? It's just a cigarette. Not an American one. British, if my memory serves." He pulls the cigarette away from the grille, but not out of sight. "At least such an ability proved useful, even if it left you…exposed."

"I won't be smoking it. If that's what you are worried about. I just want to have a look at it. I promise Amato that I won't done turn into fire here and burn it up and useful it may be, it is at time… inconvenient." Her fingers remain where they are, not lunging through the grille. He'll either pass it over or he won't and if he does, then.. she'll have to decide what she does do. "You came to me Amato, wanting to know what to do with it. Have you decided what you want to do with it, or are you still undecided. Because if you are going to read it, then.. you should do it, just dive in. right here, right now"

Her voice and face are dead serious, blue eye's settled onto his blue. "But if you haven't, if you're still torn, I'd like to see it"

What better a place to look into the sins of another man than within a confessional booth.

But Amato hesitates, his eyes on the cigarette in his fingers, specifically the end marred by the man's lips. He swallows, then squints, and finally brings it close to the grille again. "If," he says in a whisper. "There are too many 'if's. I am still torn." Amato watches the cigarette as he slides it through one of the holes in the wooden grille.

"There are always too many if's. The future is born and carried on the backs of what if's and could have's. But also on a lot of faith, hope and prayers" She carefully takes the smoke, pulling it through once she has a grip and he's let go, rolling it and turning it over and over in her palm.

And the choice made, right then and there. Into her bag for a bottle of water, the lid is unscrewed and the cigarette is unceremoniously dumped in. Cap goes back on and it's shaken around, effectively destroying what he could have read.

"My thought is this. If the good lord, wants you to see, what this man has done, you'll run across him again Amato, and you can touch his hand, and you can do it skin to skin, and face to face. Look him in the eyes instead of behind his back"

But Abby's explanation is lost in a watery fog as Amato stares at the cigarette as it wilts within the bottle. The saliva mixes with the other liquid, dissolving into nothing even as the tobacco leaks out of its soaked wrapping.

When he does meet Abby's eyes, Amato's is a face of shock. Unbelieved betrayal. It's only then, after he stares at her for several breaths, that her words echo in his head and sink into his brain. Amato frowns. "Amen," he practically grunts before he stands and twists open the handle to the confessional's door to swing it open and step out.

Abigail doesn't leap out to follow him, wrench open the door and try to stop him from leaving. Just remains sitting, hands clutching at the plastic, it protesting a creak or two, ankles crossed and taking a deep breath. "Amen indeed" She whispers, half expecting him to come through the door and snatch it away from her in an attempt to salvage what he can of it.

When he doesn't, Abby is left to sit in the dim, filtered light of the confessional, holding the bottle containing her own relative sin. She may have acted as savior, yes, but she could have just as easily lost Amato's trust. That is for her to ponder here.

Thus, the confessional gains some meaning for the Baptist after all.

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