Out of the Gallows


felix_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Out of the Gallows
Synopsis A successful conversation and a failure of an apology ensue when two survivors meet again.
Date October 6, 2009

St. Luke's Hospital: Felix's Room

He's awake these days. Mostly. Sometimes. There's still a whole lotta morphine being pumped into Fel, and it leaves him in a dreamy haze even when he is conscious. At the moment, he is aware, and trying to puzzle his way through a worn paperback: 'Scaramouche', specifically. Bizarrely, over the typical hospital scents of antiseptic and sickness, there is overlaid something delicious and spicy. No doubt from the empty bowl set on one of those wheelable trays beside him. That definitely wasn't hospital food.

Conscious being a vast improvement to the expected. It's unannounced, that Joseph comes by St. Luke's - willingly, this time. The past few times have been at the hands of well meaning people who know better than he does about such arrangements, but this time, not even the man he's visiting is expecting him. Hands shoved into the pockets of an aged and comfortable denim jacket, Joseph paces up towards the doorway, takes a breath, and knocks.

One, two raps before he's putting his hand over the door handle, turning and it easing it open. He hasn't brought the man anything - not that he didn't think of it, just that he didn't know what on earth would be appropriate. They, after all, hardly know each other. Still—

"Hey," is the soft greeting from the doorway, Joseph only admitting as much as a shoulder and a peek inside, ready to disappear if needed. The sight of Felix sitting upright, book in hand, is a little encouraging.

"Hello, preacher," Felix says, gently, laying aside the book. Indeed. No more ligature marks on wrists or throat, pale but not with that awful greyness to him. Well on the road to recovery, save for that lump of bandages that ends one leg, under the covers. "I am glad to see you," he says, simply.

The greeting is enough for Joseph to step inside and quietly close the door behind him, shielding the distant sounds of the nurse's station and the creaky shoed footsteps of the cop outside watching over Felix's door. Hands returning to his pockets, he smiles across at the man on the bed, and nods to him as if to say you too. "You look— well. I mean— "

He comes to linger at the foot of the bed. "I wanted to come by, since I got out of here myself - I just wasn't sure if I should."

That puzzles Fel a bit, and he blinks at Joseph. "Why would you not?" he wonders, too tired to find a more polite way to put it. "I'm doing really well. Had a healer sneak in, apparently. Not sure who," he lies, easily. "You okay?" he looks Joe over with a critical eye.

'A healer' gets a raised eyebrow from the pastor, but like Felix, he keeps names to himself, simply nods in surprise and understanding, temporarily derailed by the news although he does a good enough job at hiding it. "I suppose I wasn't sure if my comin' by would just— not be lettin' things lie as they should." Joseph moves towards where there's a chair set up, gripping it by its back and settling it a polite distance from the fed's bedside. A critical eye isn't completely conclusive, save for that tangible kind of politeness, more guarded than anything else. Overtired, restless. But unhurt.

"But then I realised that was kinda stupid," he admits, with a brighter smile, and sits down. His arms remain wrapped about him as if chilled. "I'm not completely okay. But I was outta here in a day or so. No scars, no nothin'. You, though, you must have someone up there that likes you a whole lot."

Felix's expression turns a little uneasy. "I've been through more lives than a cat, and my luck has run out. It's done, but that's fine. By rights, I should be six feet under now. No. I'm glad to see you alive. I don't remember what happened to us, but I've been told…."

"By rights, you're not six feet under. It ain't done 'til it's done," Joseph says, not forcibly. A teacher's assurance. He hesitates, mouth going into a line before he glances down at the ground that spans between his feet and Felix's bed. "They were never gonna— they weren't going to kill me. Before we even got there, they rigged me up with ropes that'd catch me instead of— you know. The hanging. It was news to me, I'll tell you what."

"I've been killed before," Felix says, simply. It's a bizarre statement, but he's completely matter of fact about it. "This time….I don't know how I survived. Considering the infection, the noose would've been a mercy."

The notion of Felix being killed before rings of something else Joseph has been told, but he doesn't pry beyond glancing back up at Felix with a quizzically narrowed look that lessens as he speaks. "Yeah," Joseph agrees, with a twist of a smile that isn't much of a smile. "Chalk it up to resilience. Or I guess experience, in your case. Lots of luck involved but I couldn't say that a man survivin' what you survived ain't for a reason."

He cocks his head at Joseph. "Like what?" he wonders, ingenuously. "What reason?"

The pastor hesitates, then gives the other man a crooked smile. A little rusty when it comes to these conversations, almost, if that pause is to communicate anything at all. "To keep on, I guess. That's up to you, you know? What you do with what you seem to think is stolen time.

"Selfishly, I'm kinda glad that those— that Humanis First didn't get exactly what they wanted. I'm— real glad I'm not the only— " His voice peters out, there, shoulders raising up beneath his jacket sort of like a defensive shrug, snatching his gaze towards the window. He continues more evenly a moment later. "I'm glad I'm not the only survivor of this thing."

"I'm gonna quit, at least for a little. Rest, figure things out. I've gotten a lot of scoldings since I woke up this time, and they're all right. That," he nods at his leg, "Aside, even. I am, too. I heard about the third. I never saw her, never spoke to her. I'm sorry I didn't." Fel's tone is grave.

Joseph's mouth goes into a rueful line. "We talked once. They hurt her— after they hurt her, I didn't hear much after that. I just know her name was Mona, she was a telepath. I wish I knew more too." Easing back into his chair, he eases his arms out of that tense folding, palms running together a little. "You know, this is the most I've talked on it." A slightly nervous chuckle follows, brief as it is apologetic. "I wouldn't know where to start with anyone else, who weren't there. I'm quittin' for a while too. Not that I got a church to go back to in the first place, but I figure it wouldn't hurt."

Felix lays his hands on his thighs, looks at Joseph patiently. "You can always call me, if you need," It's a blunt offer, but seems sincere. "It's a hell of a thing to survive. I…still feel guilty about that little girl."

"Thanks," is just as sincere, the lines at his eyes going a little deeper with more of a suggestion of a smile than a real one, though they smooth out at that next sentiment. Joseph blinks once, twice, assessing in some ways, before speaking up again; "BJ Cambria— the one they captured. She got away. I dunno what the hell they got their hands on to pretend otherwise," and boy does he remember that too, "but she's safe and sound with her dad and her sister now."

And Fel looks as if he's going to collapse for a moment, like one of those string and bead push puppets. "Oh, my god," he says, faintly. "I had no idea. They showed me a corpse, fragments of one." There are abruptly tears in his eyes.

"Yeah," Joseph says, own voice wavering a little, relief showing some in the smile across at Felix that he had some good news to relate, in the same way Abigail had been able to tell him. "Me too. They— tried to convince me of the same, but it was a lie. I think most of everythin' they said to us was a lie."

Felix expels a slow breath, as if he'd been holding it. "Thank God," he says, dealing with the tears by dashing them aside with an impatient swipe of his thumb. He's wept more in the past week than he has in years. "And it wouldn't surprise me."

Politely, Joseph's gaze goes downwards in the time it takes for Felix to wipe away tears, his elbows settled against his knees and back curved in a slouch. "I don't suppose it would." He looks back up at the man, a mental coin toss as to what to say next, and perhaps it's the knowledge that maybe he's said something the other man should be left with, for a time, that steers what side it lands on. His back straights, a shift as if to stand up, but he doesn't yet.

The words that come next are a little stilted, thought over, but otherwise sincere. "I guess I came by, too, to say sorry. I know— and people keep remindin' me— that what they did probably woulda happened in a billion other ways if not for me and my church, but— it was my church you and Mona were hanged in front of. So I'm sorry for paintin' a target like I did, invitin' this whole mess. I can pray for forgiveness from God but I gotta do it in person too."

The shift from relief to bristling fury is nearly instantaneous. "I do not accept it," he says, and his voice is clipped, English gone metallic and bitten off. "You have done nothing wrong. You didn't paint a target on anything. You lived as you should, and that church was what it was named. A light. There is no apology." Fel makes an impatient shoving gesture with a palm, as if he'd dismiss it physically.

There's been resistance before, but none so vehement, and Joseph almost looks apologetic for apologising, shoulders slouched forward and expression lost. At the very least, he doesn't argue this time, gaze dipping down before giving a single nod, and after a moment, he simply states, "Thank you." He stands, then, hands down to smooth out his trousers, and either since he's come in or at least during the course of the meeting, his fingers tremble just a little before being curled back into fists and pushed into his jacket. "I should let you keep restin'. My number's still the same if you ever need it too."

Fel eyes him almost wolfishly, as if doubting his sincerity. It's weirdly reminiscent of him back in one of the Bureau's interrogation rooms. "Whatever your burdens, put down the guilt. It is theirs to bear, not yours," he insists. "You and I will speak again." It's really a command.

It could be intimidating, but rather, the strength of it as opposed to the caution or avoidance of others is almost a little more understandable after the month they've both been through. "I'll work on it," Joseph promises. To agree right away would be a lie. His shoulders relax from their tense horizon beneath denim, and he allows himself to flicker a smile wanly back at the former agent. "And yeah, we will. Thanks for talkin' now, in any case."

Felix jerks his chin up, in agreement. "There is no hurry. I am going nowhere fast," His accent has crept in, as has that sort of fatalistic humor that drives Lee nuts. "Thank you for coming to see me.

Fatalistic humour gets a wry, mirthless smile from the pastor who nods back in acknowledgment and sympathy. "Y'welcome." And with that, Joseph heads away from the bed, quietly letting himself out without a glance back, and door clicking shut polite behind him.

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