eileen_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Projection
Synopsis Joseph and Eileen do not see eye-to-eye on how Emile Danko should be handled. One brings out the worst in the other.
Date November 4, 2009

Grand Central Terminal — Track 61

The Terminal's worst and best kept secret, the elusive Track 61 is infamously known as the secret platform that President Roosevelt used to hide his dire medical condition, as well as increase his personal security. Even before the destruction of Midtown, this area lay in dark abandonment, and has not since changed in the slightest. A vast train track area, it is accessible only via a large vehicle elevator. A train carriage sits rusting on the tracks, unusual in its militant green and the fact it is plated with bullet proof iron. Tunnels and pipes vein out from this place like so many of the mysterious underground areas of the Terminal, but unlike others, it seems almost deliberately left to ruin by the Ferrymen.

Down here, it's dark enough that one has to travel with a torch or some other form of portable illumination if one wants to avoid twisted ankles and open gashes on rust metal, and so when light is encountered, it shines like a beacon. Even this, a bar of dirty fluorescent stapled to brick wall above the door. It beams a bright, soul-sucking light, spills onto the iron of the portal it hovers directly above, casts grey over the aging brick, makes a hazy circle around this one, immediate area, and buzzes with the power that keeps it lit.

Old carriages sit like beached whales upon the snake nest mess of unused train track, hulking masses of black shadow, detail lost in the porridge-thick darkness. Joseph has explored this place already, with a shifting, wavery flashlight beam, and so for now, he sits with his back against the rust-stained iron door, head back enough to lean. The corners of his eyes are tight at the harshness of the light directly above him, but by now, he's used to it.

There's the scrabble of claws and debris as four fat paws go trotting across the ruined floor of the underground platform. Alicia is cut apart from the similarly pitch black backdrop as she makes her loping, lumbering way towards her seated owner, who only puts his hands out to receive her. She pushes her large head between his hands and drops the drooled upon tennis ball between his feet, enjoying the skritches she receives before the tennis ball is picked up without particular prissiness for its dampness, and flung off again into the distance.

It sends Alicia running, bounding black and bear-like out of the vicinity of the pallid light, and Joseph rests his head back against the door once more.

There's a German word — schadenfruede — on loan to the English language that describes the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others, and although Joseph has no way of knowing, this is not what Eileen is experiencing when freight elevator doors grind open and she steps out onto the platform, taking stock of the gloom and the shapes concealed within it. It isn't her first time visiting Danko; she's been here at least once before to tend to their prisoner's wounds with cold, insensitive hands and the bedside manner of a spitting cobra, and it's the need for a follow-up examination that brings her now rather than any perverse desire to feel the ex-marine twisting in discomfort against her bitter ministrations.

The echo of booted feet reverberates off the track's cement walls, filling the stale air with the staccato sound of her approach. She does not announce herself — the elevator's rusted racket has likely taken care of that already. Instead, she closes the remaining distance between herself and the pastor, gray-green eyes mindful and wary of Alicia lurking somewhere in the inky periphery.

Eileen's fear of dogs is proportional to their size, and this one is very large.

At the sound of the elevator, Joseph— didn't get up. Not right away, only turning his head to try and squint past the bright light he's haloed in, and listen to the cadence of the approach. It's not Robin or Neil's heavier plodding, unfamiliar mostly, and when Eileen's slight silhouette creates its shape against the shadow—

Well, she's not awfully unexpected, but Joseph's eyebrows do lift in a mild form of surprise before his expression switches back to neutral. Before she can halt, the pastor is getting to his feet, now, because that's polite to do. One hand levering against the locked door, other used to straighten out his shirt, dust off the seat of his pants. To the expert eye, he's unarmed - there's no shotgun rested against the wall, no rifle strapped to his back, no sidearm settled in a holster - just a book resting on the ground, with a switched off torch resting with its glass eye to the ground. He doesn't quite have to beat back the wolves yet.

Speaking of wolves, Alicia is first moving back towards Joseph, intrigued that he's all standing up now and things. She's abandoned the tennis ball a ways back, which he will have to go find after this, and then at a slow saunter, she starts to move to greet Eileen.

It's either luck or astute observation that has Joseph calling the big dog back before she can get very far, a low whistle that has her twisting to look at him, and about turn. "What's the weather like?" is as good a greeting as any, Joseph tilting his head to indicate the world above.

The tension that had been coiling itself around Eileen's trim musculature visibly loosens when Joseph summons Alicia back to his side. It's a move that's either kind or wise of him, though the young woman is not quite so disenchanted as to believe that one must always preclude the other. "Typical," she says in response to his query, her pace slowing, each step carefully calculated. A headscarf woven from dark gray cashmere wool covers fat curls of glossy hair and suggests rain, but it's the umbrella she carries tucked under her arm that confirms what the beads of moisture cleaning to her upper lip are also hinting at. "I can't say I'm a very big fan of your winters. Autumn, though— the colours in the trees are worth the chill."

She gives a brisk shudder of her umbrella the same way Alicia might shed water from her coat with a full body shake, spraying glittering droplets of icewater in every direction. The double-breasted jacket she wears over her oversized sweater appears equally drenched, and as her eyes move from her umbrella, past Joseph to the locked door of the holding cell, the expression on her pale face adopts a stonier quality.

"Has he gotten better or worse?" she wishes to know of Danko, tone clipped and voice shallow with an utter lack of emotion one way or the other.

Taking a step away from the door, Joseph leaves its colour-draining light behind that emphasised only the fact he isn't seeing much sunlight and could do with more sleep. Shadows are kinder. However, he only steps towards her, rather than aside, a 6' obstacle between the Englishwoman's diminutive frame and the locked door, his hands tucking into the pockets of loose jeans and shoulders rounded inwards against the coolness of the air.

"He's keepin' on," is Joseph's neutral, uninformative answer, keeping his voice low and quiet, although after a moment, apology defines the shapes of his expression, head tilting. "We're treatin' the pain. Seems to be gettin' his strength back."

Another step closer, to settle in a comfortable conversational distance, arms coming to wrap around his midsection, hands gripping either elbow. "I guess we'll have to go wait and see if it'll end up matterin', won't we," he adds, eyes too dark a brown to be anything but black as he studies her.

Eileen comes to a halt, her feet a shoulder's width apart, leather flats clicking against the pavement smartly. "It matters," she says. "Contrary to what Phoenix might tell you, I'm not some sort of Gorgon. I don't take any pleasure from this, you know. Emile Danko's suffering brings me no joy." There may not be any such thing as comfortable conversational distance when it comes to this woman. Her demeanor is much harsher than it had been in Noah Bennet's presence, reminiscent of the night they'd gathered around the table in this very terminal and discussed the matter of Maxwell Quinn. If there is any real pity in her eyes, it is shadowed by their thick lashes.

She lifts one dark brow at him in pointed inquiry, silent at first, as if waiting for the freight elevator to rumble and depart before asking the next question that burns hot in the tip of her tongue. Ultimately, this stillness does not last. "Has my proposition injured you in some way, Pastor?"

"Just 'Joseph' is fine, please." His words aren't even coldly polite, the genuine request made as softly as Eileen is harsh in demeanor. His stance, however, remains closed off, and his gaze analytical, mouth turning down at that question and a glance back towards the door. "Phoenix ain't told me a thing about you, Ms. Ruskin. I took orders from you. And I only know you got your ways and your opinions, and… that you know what you're doin' when it comes to Ferry matters."

Joseph's tone is slightly too simple to be overly flattering, and clams up even more as he continues. "And I think you know your way about seein' how this ends, as does Mr. Bennet. I'm of the mind you should both come out and say what you want instead of— this proposition o' yours."

"If the decision had been in my hands alone, Danko would already be dead," Eileen concedes. "I have five heavily armed and well-trained men on my side who would make short work of anyone who might stand in my way, and that includes you and your dog. Trust me when I say that of all the methods I could have chosen to get what I want, this one is the best for everyone involved." It's a threat, or at least the closest she's willing to come to one in the musty darkness of the platform with Alicia only meters away. There is undoubtedly a shoulder holster with a pistol fit snugly in it beneath the woolen material of her jacket, though she has not yet drawn attention to it and probably has no intention to.

"Usually," she continues, "I prefer not to create a spectacle of situations like these, but as I told Bennet before: the people deserve an opportunity to confront him for the crimes he's committed against their friends and loved ones. They have the right to look on him with their own eyes and ask why, and while I don't expect his answer to satisfy anyone except himself, it will at least provide those affected by Humanis First with what they need most. Closure."

The comment is threat-adjacent and warning enough to have Joseph square his shoulders, though he doesn't wish he were armed, himself. It's hard to know what to make of his expression in this half-light, especially when these two people of different planets scarcely know the other, but his brow is knit into something that could be interpreted as worry. Perhaps that's just how he communicates most things.

"They won't get it," he says, in a tone that falls flat. "Not from him. Trust me on that, that there is nothing Danko can say or do or have done to him that will change a thing."

Another step forward, a hand out, palm turned upwards. "The closure we'll all get is the knowledge we are better than him. That we don't got to compromise a single thing for him. The closure is what we do, our own actions, our ability to be— be better than the animals he thinks we are."

Not that he's taking this personally or anything, but Joseph keeps his voice in an earnest place, as much as black eyes are steely and watchful, and as much as he continues with— "You and Bennet would have him talk himself into his own death warrant. That ain't fair, or honest."

"How fortunate for us that we don't live in a fair and honest world." In contrast to Joseph's, Eileen's voice is finely honed like the edge of a razor and twice as sharp. She's young and she's angry, a dangerous combination with respect to anyone who has ever had someone taken from them too soon or has done the taking themselves — in a way, she's projecting her own guilt and the guilt of the Vanguard onto the man on the other side of the door, and putting a gun to his head is more appealing than sticking it under her own chin or even Ethan's.

"You're a good person, Joseph," she says tersely. "Those who are lucky enough to know you are better for it. Understand, though, that not all of us operate on the same principles. If we did, the things that need to get done wouldn't, and the entire network would collapse under the weight of your gutless compassion. That man is going to die, whether the Ferry condemns him or I pull the trigger myself. I can promise you that."

The theme for tonight is projection. Joseph has the benefit of being responsible for less collatoral damage when he sorts out his issues in comparison to Eileen, or at least have less blood directly spattered on him, but it's one and the same, and neither will readily own up to it, here and now. Meanwhile, visible affront has Joseph's spine stiffening. It's funny, that Emile and Eileen would agree, regarding Joseph's compassion.

Not that Joseph is laughing. "I won't stand here and be called cowardly for my principles." His voice is rougher than it was before, equal measures tired and newly angry. He speaks no louder than before, perhaps even quieter, sound carrying with ease through the space. "Not by you, not by him. But let me tell you, this ain't about compassion. I feel no such thing for that man. The only compassion I have for anythin' right now is the Ferry, and what you're doing— "

Getting angry is flustering, sentence petering out as is habitual, despite his prior, practiced words. Alicia has since wandered off by now, to paw around at rubble and rock, leaving the two to their discussion and respective phobias. Joseph takes a breath, lets it out. "He ain't dyin'. Not by our hands."

There is no amusement in Eileen's glassy eyes, not even a trace of mirth, but still her lips curve around a smile. She leans at the waist, a shift so slight that Joseph might not even be able to detect it if they weren't alone on the platform. Solitude amplifies the delicate rustle of her clothes and the crinklier sound of the umbrella's sodden material compacted between clenched fingers. This, too, is a weapon even if she's in no position to swing it. Her forked tongue alone will do.

"It's a shame you can't use that ability of yours on yourself," she murmurs, lowering her voice to Joseph's level, "or you'd know that isn't true."

If he listens hard enough, he might be able to hear the rain pattering against the street above their heads, real or imaginary. Maybe it's just her breathing, thin and raspy. "I'll come back tomorrow."

He'd argue that he can't hardly use it on anyone anymore, but it wouldn't make a difference, as it doesn't buffer the jab remotely anyway. Joseph takes a step back, further into the cast of illumination behind him, giving more angle and contrast to the set of his jaw as he regards the young woman. There is likely more either of them could present to each other, regarding their arguments, but there is, always, the trial, and an impasse widens between them and whistles with wind.

"You can go on in now," Joseph states, with a directing tilt of his head back to the door. He would like to think his gaze set on her is fearless in the face of threats and promises and prophecies. "Wouldn't want you to have traveled all this way just to chat to me or nothin'."

"No," Eileen agrees, stepping forward to move past Joseph on her way toward the door. "I don't imagine you would." And just like that she's showing him her back, the smell of her perfume mixing and mingling the the dampness of her clothes and hair, the mildew in the air, ripe and stifling. Tick, tick, tick go her feet against the pavement, each step punctuated by the flat snap of her heel. She's lucky that Aude shot her in the shoulder and not the leg, or walking away from this conversation wouldn't appear nearly as dignified.

But appearances are just that: appearances, and largely superficial. He cannot see the faint tug pulling downward at both corners of her mouth or the slope of her brow as it knits in obvious consternation. Although she'd never let on, something Joseph said has her unsettled if not downright perturbed.

The step he takes aside is downright polite, permitting her path towards the door, although it's a show in itself. Joseph glances back at her as she goes, before briskly moving towards the wall just beside the inset of iron. The way he turns off the light as her fingers pick out the lock is protocol she by now would be familiar with. No sense in allowing Danko to see too far past his immediate prison, and light already switched on within the cell will spill out to light up the Englishwoman's features and display what awaits her.

Which doesn't make the initial plunge into darkness any less unnerving, but Joseph is already moving, picking up his torch and making meandering steps after where his dog has wandered with a sweep of light he keeps angled from the door's view. Either Joseph has faith in Eileen's own faith in the upcoming trial spectacle, or belief that God would not allow anything bad to come of this decision, or perhaps the crackboom sound of a gun going off would not be entirely unwelcome after all.

Whatever the case, no true answer is revealed to Eileen, as Joseph in turn shows her his back too, and allows her a reprieve from preaching so that she can find whatever it is she seeks beyond the locked iron door.

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