Playing Along


danko_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Playing Along
Synopsis Danko has some leverage over Joseph when it comes to what hoops the pastor has to jump through, and there is brief discussion over what Billy Jean Cambria is and isn't.
Date September 8, 2009

Somewhere in New Jersey

Danko's sect is up to three prisoners now, and for lack of a better place to hold three extra bodies, command operations have temporarily relocated. Natural light filters in pure white through the barred window of Joseph's cell, deceptively cheerful in its play off concrete walls cracked and worn a smooth, uniform grey above a waist-high band of neutral blue. The floors are clean, for the most part — a large drain grate worked into the far corner likely responsible for that. The cell doors are bars as well, chained and padlocked where the original mechanism is chewed over thick with rust. The hallway outside looks exactly like the room's interior, lifeless and flat, stretching on for God only knows how long.

Outside the door, a rife nose occasionally teeters into sight when its owner lifts a hand to scratch at his nose or checks his watch. Thus far he's been unresponsive to any and all attempts at communication, even ignoring screams and shouts, but as of three seconds ago he uttered a low, "No problems, sir," and been part of a key jangled exchange.

Danko's voice is far more familiar in it simple, "Thank you, Stevens," and then there's the man himself, working the lock and rattling robust chain out of the way to grant himself and the larger marine at his back entry. They're both in fatigues and both armed to the teeth, but only the one in the mask is holding an unconscious little girl in his arms, skinny limbs slothing drowsy and limp in their slack point at the floor.

As for Joseph — things could be worse. Probably. He's tied down to a metal chair at the room's center, hands bound behind the chair back, feet locked into the forelegs, back to the window with a bag over his head that smells vaguely like a musty old attic rather than represent the stench of anything more immediately horrifying.

It's the bag that strips off first, bleeding white light into hungry pupils when Danko's regular footfalls pace even with the chair.

Kind of like when one comes up for air, Joseph draws in a deep breath when it's no longer filtered with whatever scratchy material the bag was made of, squinching his eyes shut as the light comes flooding in. His whole body locks with tension, as if anticipating pain or more manhandling and when it doesn't come, he eases out a trapped breath, and opens his eyes with a few blinks.

Joseph hasn't slept. Apart from the brief reprieve of tranquiliser, which doesn't completely count, sleeplessness feels like an electrical current beneath his skin. Dark hair sticks to the nape of his neck and his forehead, where cool sheens of sweat have accumulated, but all and all, unhurt and twitchily, avidly awake. Danko gets a brief, jerking glance upwards before he tries to take in what he can of the cell.

It takes maybe less than a second for him to hone his attention on the little girl in the masked man's arms. Going cold, Joseph stays very still in mute shock and recognition, and there's a twitchy scrape of metal as, for the fiftieth time, he tries the binds at his wrists. As if they might magically come free this time.

"Morning," greets Danko, who's bright eyed and bushy tailed enoough to have already been up making people miserable for at least a couple've hours on this fine Monday. The bag in his hand is folded loose over itself while he looks Sumter over, but all that seems to have changed from yesterday night to now is the rough accumulation of sweat and grease glistening on the pastor's person. Satisfied, he glances sideways to current company and steps neatly out of the way while he shuffles in his fatigues after a plain-looking black cell phone, opening up the masked thug and sleeping BJ to plain view.

"Get any sleep?" Dawdle, dawdle. Emile's not actually paying attention to Joseph's answer — not anymore than he's paying attention to his reaction to the sight of the little girl while he thumbs through the phone's directory. "I'm gonna need you to make a little phone call explaining your disappearance."

No attention is paid to an answer that never comes, as Joseph isn't paying attention to the question. He's looking at the ragdoll form of Billy Jean Cambria and feeling something in his chest and throat close up, an invasive kind of dread and guilt as synapses fire through the foggy landscape of his mind. Raquelle. When did that happen. What about Diana. Is she okay. Is she alive. These questions and more that Joseph keeps to himself, dark eyes fixed ahead and jaw clamped shut enough to make his teeth ache.

Finally, he tears his attention from her, towards Danko, looking blankly at the cellphone then back up again. His brow is furrowed as he stares for a few seconds. "No." The defiance is simple and doesn't even take that much courage to do, the flat refusal spoken quietly, and not without some trepidation, seeing as he isn't talking about whether he got any sleep, although the answer still applies.

"You sure about that?" Number located, Danko lifts the phone and his brows, little plastic device offset at an angle to match what looks a whole lot like a perfectly reasonable appeal to logic. He could be asking about his preference between cereal and oatmeal for breakfast for all the difference it makes when he draws the .45 strapped to his side neatly away, cocks the hammer (chlk-click) and reaches his arm straight out sideways to nudge the gun muzzle cold into the sweet rock of BJ's precious head.

"'Cause with you so noble, religious and self-sacrificing, I really thought the odds of you playing along would be pretty good."

Joseph's gaze cuts out with a blink and drops to the cement floor as the gun touches against BJ's temple, a swallow working down his throat and wrists twisting, slowly and edgily, in their bindings. Silence underscores the simple notion that it's quite clear how easy a checkmate it is, and the clammily pale skin of Joseph's face gets a little more color in his cheeks. It could account for any emotion, and probably does for many.

The steely tremor in his voice only communicates quiet anger and helplessness, however, as he asks, "Who am I calling?" A flicker-brief glance at BJ before his focus rests squarely on Danko, and though he can't summon up the same sort of blank hatred that Humanis First! has cultivated, there's something there that comes close.

'Thought so,' reads smug and secure in an upturn at the corner of Danko's mouth at the end of that hateful silence, but he declines to waste the time rubbing it in would entail. Instead he hits 'speakerphone' and lowers the phone down to Joseph's level, fingers light on black plastic while the line connects and the ring starts to trill tinny in the air between them, same as every other phone call Jo's made in the last year.

"Ashby. I want you to tell him Caroline's taken ill — needs you to come down and take care of some business for her while she's under the weather." Rrrrrring. Rrrrring. With every mechanical, pre-recorded purr, it seems more and more likely that the pastor on the other end isn't going to pick up. The gun pushes hard enough into BJ's temple to loll her head over in time with resultant tension.

Joseph says nothing, just nods once his understanding, whatever signified that blush underlined and so colouring even more at the smug smirk in reply. Watching the phone with dull nervousness, Danko gets a sharper, almost exasperated glare at the nudge of the gun, but there's no time to say anything before the rrrring cuts out and gives way to the tinny sounds of Pastor Ashby's voice wired through satellite. "Hello?"

Looking faintly sick, Joseph closes his eyes, and tries to banish the nervousness that's gripped him ever since the phone started ringing. "Hi, George, it's Joseph." Patiently wading through the bluster of greetings and friendliness that comes after, he attempts to cut through the point a little faster. Get this over with. "Listen— I'm sorry, I don't have much time to talk, but somethin's come up. Mom's fallen sick and I have to go home for a little while to take care of some things for her."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Are you okay? Is everything alright?"

All at once, a nervous piece of inappropriate laughter threatens to escape him, Joseph opening his eyes if only to roll them towards the ceiling. He manages to clamp down on it with a tick of a pause. "I'm alright, George. Thanks. Sorry 'bout the short notice— "

"Don't worry about a thing, you focus on your family. My prayers'll be with you and Caroline."

"Thank you. Gotta go, but I'll call when I know when it's all clear." It won't be the first time he's had to lie that smoothly, skills heightened when there's a gun to the girl's head, although the fretful tremor never really goes away, every word edged with the tension of the cell and the fatigues and the way his legs are locked to the chair. Joseph will have to reflect on what it feels like to cut off a lifeline a little later as he shrugs at Danko with all the sullenness of a teenager made to apologise for something bad. There.

Danko and the marine he has with him stand still as statues poised white and black in the stark morning light. There's nary so much as a scuff of sleeve over torso. No movement at all, in fact, until DJ murmers quietly to herself in her sleep and Danko's gloved and gun-carrying hand navigates over to curl what coarse fingers it can spare into a gentle push across her mouth, watching Joseph's face all the while. Tranquil. Unblinking.

When the conversation ends, so does the call. There's a tell-tale 'boop,' a glance at the call time and a tip of his head that sends DJ and marine tromping for the door while he tucks the phone back into his fatigues, exchanging it for the musty bag once the gun is holstered too.

"S'pretty good," commended at a mutter that falls short of congratulatory, he flicks the bag out once — checks it inside and out. Scratches after an itch at the back of his fuzzy skull. "The longer you cooperate, the longer she stays alive. The longer she stays alive, the greater the chance that one of your super friends'll show up to take her off our hands." Flop, goes the bag, and Danko searches briefly after cool eye contact before reaching to tug it back down scratchy over Joseph's head. "Guess you'd better hope for her sake the Fed is capable of divining the same equation."

Joseph seems to visibly shrink back against the chair as the bag is brought back around to tug over his head, but not a word of protest is made. Not because he likes it any more than he did previously, but there's indignity in asking for something you know is probably not going to be granted to you. Which somehow doesn't stop him from the muffled, dull sounding request—

"Let her go. Let her go home. I'll do— whatever, just… she's a child."

He owes it to Raquelle to undergo that particular indignity, anyway.

"She's a monster. Same as you." Tug, tug. Danko sniffs to himself once the bag is drawn down and secure, sleeve scuffed to nose while he examines his handiwork, then turns to go, bootfalls fading soft across the concrete floor. "You more than anyone should know it's what's on the inside that really counts."

Despairing silence is the only response, the chain clanks of the barred door before closed up not quite muffling the creak of restraints pulled taut against the chair in one small fit of defiance. Tying to bleed out his tension in the physical act of resistance before Joseph is simply slumping back again. Back into burlap darkness, where he can try and fail to figure a way out of this for however long he's left there.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License