Practically the Ritz


daphne_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Practically the Ritz
Synopsis Daphne is escorted from docks to the new safehouse by a friendly face from her past.
Date April 4, 2010

Brick House

It's cold enough for some that breathing in the air is a little like placing a razor blade down the centre of young tongue and clenching your jaw. It stings. It's now snowing at the moment, even as fluffy white ice lines the river edge, melted back from the secret cellar door that makes its underground journey back to the Brick House that makes its shape somewhere further back. Joseph stands between it and the narrow river water running between Queens and Roosevelt Island, beneath the imposing shadow of the Queensboro Bridge where traffic rumbles ahead even at this hour of the morning.

Joseph didn't just roll out of bed. He's been to Calvary Cemetary already for the sunrise service of a small Baptist congregation — even met some familiar faces, though they seem to drift out from another life altogether, including that of Pastor Ashby who didn't really have a heck of a lot to say to him.

The rowboat he's waiting for is bobbing through the water now, silently, slipping across the glassy, shadowed stretch of water and escaping the notice of the loose boarder patrol set up around the sliver of island. Joseph searches out the faces he can see for the one he expects to recognise — yet another person from another life now careening into this one.

Huddled in a coat and blankets, Daphne peers across the water, looking for another person who knows how she should be, how vibrant and frenetic her vitality in health is, who can juxtapose that image to this frail and sickly crippled woman she is now. She accepted that he'd be the one to receive her at the end of this journey across frigid waters, but she didn't like it. But there isn't a lot she's liked about anything since she's been sick. It's been one cruel joke after another, and now she finds herself literally shuttled from Corbin to Ferry again. She was right — he should have let her go with the others. It would have been easier.

Now that Daphne knows why Teo took her the last time — she isn't sure if it's better or worse that she knows. She isn't sure of anything — until the face on the waiting dock becomes clear through the mist and through her hazy, feverish vision. She offers a faint smile, though it seems sincere, when the boat closes in on the dock to be moored.

"Heya, Cross," she murmurs, her voice raspy with her flu.

With a discreet glance over his shoulder, as if checking that Homeland Security, DoEA's hired military men and all of Humanis First didn't somehow manage to sneak up on him, Joseph heads on over onto the docks proper, and deals a brighter and just as sincere smile across at Daphne. He— hasn't changed much. Some. It's nowhere near the drastic transformation of the pixie blonde buzzing with life, movement, energy, but he's changed a little bit. There no suit under his heavy winter coat, and there's no wedding band on the appropriate hand, and he's— slightly thinner too. Presumably that happens, when you're technically homeless and unemployed.

And go through detox. "Mornin', Daphne," he says, leaving securing of the boat to the man more capable of doing so. Joseph knows mountains, not rivers and boats. "Welcome back to the network. How're you holdin' up?"

"I've been better," the ill speedster says, and the words amuse her to the point of chuckling, which leads to coughing. As the boatman ties off the boat, she hands Jospeh her crutches, since they will be useless in getting her out of the boat. She waits until the boatman comes back to help her out, to lift up Daphne's underweight form — her usually cherubic cheeks are a bit thinner as well, though they're pink from the cold air. The boat threatens to turn over as they move from boat to dock. Once there, she reaches for her crutches, eyes downcast, trying not to meet Joseph's gaze. She told him — he might be the only person she's told in New York, come to think of it — about her power and about her disability, but she still hates for him to see her so weak.

"I guess it's your turn to save me, huh?" Daphne says in a small voice, peeking up at him through dark lashes, then looking around for the next vehicle to take her to safety. After Daphne is lifted out of the boat and handed off to Joseph, the boat man returns to get Samson, who clambers up onto the dock. He has no leash but moves to Daphne's side, looking up at Joseph expectantly as if waiting for directions.

A glance down at the familiar dogs follows ruffling the mutt's ears, Joseph trading a nod to the boatman once he's handed Daphne's crutches back to her. "Sounds like everyone's all gone and done the savin' you need," he deflects, a hand going out to touch her arm without trying to impede on her arrangement of walking sticks. It's one of those things that make proud people naturally gravitate away from Joseph — obvious sympathy in black eyes, the furrow of his brow and the slight strain to his smile.

"'bout forty feet from here, we go underground, then— " He points off towards the two storey ramshackle factory-office house off towards the distance. "That leads off into home sweet home. It's tough goin', in and out, but that's privacy for you. We try to do it as little as possible anyways. Think you can make that?"

There is a slight huff of a laugh at his first comment. Daphne is still sick, isn't she? But there is no one who can save her from that. She watches him point to the distance and she chews her lower lip as she considers it. "I can try. For once, you might have to wait for me," she says, trying to keep things light-hearted though the journey looks difficult for someone with two good feet, and she has none.

She isn't going to ask to be carried, and she isn't going to look into those dark sympathetic eyes. Her right crutch moves forward, then the left to create the awkward "walking" gait of her crutches so that her feet are never without the support of at least one crutch. "Everyone else is safe? Has anyone talked to Dee and Doc Brennan?" Daphne glances at Samson at the mention of his owner's name.

With the dog trailing obediently behind them, both former pastor and former speedster make the arduous journey that short distance that would be so much easier if it wasn't mid-winter in Antarctica. It could actually be worse. The sky writes it out — there's a blizzard coming, some several hours off. If there was ever going to be any moving, it was going to be this morning or wait for however long it takes to pass. Joseph shoves his hands in his pockets, and doesn't offer to carry her.

"Delilah's up at the hospital they got goin' for the sick ones, 's all I know. Harve's alright last I checked, he checked in. As far as I can figure it, everyone's home safe for the time being — you were the last one to worry about, provided that the two at the hospital don't need to be worried about."

"I think we all need to be worried about," Daphne says quietly. "And you that aren't sick, too. You've got a power — you shouldn't be exposing yourself to us. I don't want you to get sick — or Doc or any of you. There aren't enough non-powered Ferry folk?" The pixyish woman gives a chuckle at the inadvertent likening of Ferry and faerie.

Her eyes are still downcast, avoiding his gaze and trying to keep an eye on the ground so that she doesn't stumble over any rugged terrain. The journey is taxing enough as it is on both body and spirit. Her congested breathing becomes heavier after just a few paces.

"Now, now, don't get me wrong, lady — when we get into the Brick House, we got a whole wing set up for you plague havers that I'll be scarcely seen 'til I get immunised." This sounds jovial enough, lighthearted, as weightless as the fine dusting of snow that will herald the coming storm making bruises colours northish from here. "But I figure that just this once, I could risk it. We got several non-Evo types," Joseph adds, also glancing towards Daphne's path, though he'd already kicked what debris he could out of the way while he'd been waiting. "But only so many places t'go."

More concerning than the immediate path between here and cellar door would of course be Daphne's health, and the blast of steamy breathing as it becomes taxing gets a glance from Joseph. "Vaccination'll be out and public any day now anyhow. All that business goin' on at Roosevelt Island, they're gonna start handing out the injections too. Ya know, provided you're Registered. Which I am. Don't worry 'bout me."

"Good," comes her raspy reply, a gloved hand releases its grip on her crutch for a moment to push aside the shock of platinum hair from her eyes. Despite the cold, her skin shines, a gleam of sweat on brow and cheeks from exertion and the ever-present fever. "You're too good to get sick. Though you look like you could be. Getting a bit skinny for your britches there, southern boy." Her attempt at lighthearted banter segues into a racking cough. "Look, if it's easier not to take care of us — at least me — I told him he could bring me to a hospital. You can do the same. If you're registered, why shouldn't I be?" Except then they'd tag her for probably every crime thought to be the work of a speedster that's happened in the city. "Not like I'm dangerous." Except to people trying to stop her on the side of a building she's sleepwalking on.

Joseph stops.

Maybe it's to force her to take a break, maybe he just wants a pause to think. Exposure to the cold of the air probably isn't any better for her than making her walk, but it's only a handful of seconds as he lets (crossy) black eyes roam a speculative gaze over her, as if getting Registered were a visual thing that he could imagine fitting her like a new dress. Then, he states, "You're not dangerous. But you value your freedom. 's who you are." Starts walking again, feet crunching in icy grass.

"And this is sorta what we do, Daphne. Lookin' after people. Not just the ones that can walk on their own or are healthy and whole — but people. Sure as heck don't get paid for it and we can walk any time." A glance at her, past his wool-clad shoulder. "And whatever, I could stand to lose a little weight. I'm healthy as ever."

Taking a few deep, if rattly, breaths when he stops, she finally looks up when Joseph speaks, something in his voice finally drawing her shamed gaze up toward his face. Her lips part as if to speak, then close, and she just smirks for a moment before continuing her own awkward amble shuffling along the path.

"All right," she says quietly. "And because I might forget to tell you later or maybe I'll just be bitchy and not want to, I should say thank you, right? That's the polite thing to do. So thanks. And I mean it, even if I sound like an ungrateful brat."

Joseph is tucking his chin into his gathered scarf as she talks, and watches his feet sink into the mush that the snow has turned the landscape into. Loose grass, icy mud, though he tries to lead her over the dry parts until they reach a patch of ground that's enirely clear of ice and snow — and a little scorched in addition to that. By the time he's opening the cellar door, and nudging Samson in to go on ahead, he delivers back with probably more ease than the thank you was summoned, shining her a quick smile, "You're welcome."

"If I get better, I'll take you out for some fattening food and get some of it put back on you," the speedster murmurs, returning to the subject of the new thinner version of the pastor she met a year before.

Daphne looks relieved to make it to the house itself, though getting from cellar to the rest of the house will be a chore. "Home sweet home," she murmurs. She's been taken care of at her own home, at the Den, at the bookstore, and now the Brick House while with this flu — how long will this stop last?

"By the way," she says by way of warning, "If I start talking about a Hiro, I'm just hallucinating. You can pat me on the head and smile and nod and tell me there's no blood and it's all fine. I won't believe you, but I won't remember if you piss me off." She looks up the steps and sighs a little. "Please tell me there's a bathroom on the same floor my bed's on?"

"There sure is," might be a lie, but she will only find out when she gets there. Going ahead of her, Joseph— isn't a doctor and for all that he seems like a down to earth kind of individual, pragmatism doesn't come awful natural. He trusts that Daphne has enough know-how and practice working around her own illness than he does, and seems to be ready to help out as opposed to actively meddle in the woman's cautious climb into the darkness.

A flashlight clicks on, a powerful one that floods the dank tunnel with bright illumination. "It's practically the Ritz down here, didn't no one tell you that?"

It will be a long climb, unless he gets impatient and swoops her up, as she's stubborn enough not to ask. "Nope. Didn't no one tell me nothin'," Daphne says huskily, focusing on teasing the man's poor grammar than her own lack of the use of her lower limbs. Humor in the face of adversity is one of her strong points, even if it's usually cynical and bitter humor.

"Next time, aim for the Waldorf Astoria. They," her quip is interrupted by a bit of a coughing fit, ruining the punch of the already-weak one-liner, "have better salad."

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