Someone 'Round to Shoot You in the Leg


eileen_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Someone Round to Shoot You in the Leg
Synopsis Eileen seeks out Joseph at the Brick House after her meeting with Bennet and Scott.
Date April 17, 2010

Brick House

The windows are west-facing, and so don't allow an awful lot of the sunrise light to come beaming on in even if the sky was not choked with steely clouds. The room is spacious, a table set out for people to gather and eat, and probably among the cleanest of the public rooms, affording a glimpse of the river and Roosevelt Island beyond. Upon the wooden surface is a lantern to make up for the poor morning light, and a French press that Joseph has loaded with rich coffee and pouring in boiling water that steams up the plastic sides.

There are two large dogs that live here too, and neither of them share the room or even the accessible rooms, taking up Andy Rourke's bed as an ideal spot to sleep, and so, the pastor is having his early morning alone. There's the sound of stirring through the Brick House, and he ignores it as normal, blinking to clear sleepiness from his eyes and stifling a yawn.

Leaving the press to steep once he's added a liberal helping of sugar to dissolve, he sits down and rests his chin in his hands, rubbing his jaw with his thumb as he looks out the window. Hair still slightly sleep mussed, he's bundled into winter clothes against the ever-present chill of the abandoned building, for all that they've done what they could to keep it warm.

No two safehouses are alike. They all have their own rules and procedures that dictate the manner in which they're run, and the Brick House is one that Eileen doesn't visit very often due to those it has in place. This isn't to say that coming and going at dawn and dusk or under the general cover of darkness isn't a sound strategy; plenty of animals employ it in the wild, and sometimes Eileen does too, but this place isn't her set.

It's Joseph's.

Booted feet sound on the cellar stairs, announcing her presence as she ascends so she doesn't startle anyone who might be in the kitchen when her gloved hand curls fingers around the knob and twists. Wood groans, hinges creak, and the Englishwoman appears in the door's frame, silhouette unmistakable even in the absence of proper light.

She has the look of someone carrying a lot of weight in spite of her small size and delicate proportions, something most people probably wouldn't recognize, but the years Joseph has spent with the church give him an extra edge in this respect. A common sight for a pastor.

"Sumter." That's Eileen for good morning.

Joseph's head lifts off his hand in a brief and startled motion, black eyes wide as he zeroes in on the source of the voice that must have crept up on him. There's a frosty pause as he reconfigures, makes sense of the young woman in the doorway as he roams a look over her, context coming back in. Of course, he recognises Eileen Ruskin, and she's hardly any of the demons that he might be wary of suddenly showing up when he least expects it. He casts her a quick smile, which is Joseph for good morning, and his chair shifts a little like he might get up.

Decides against it. "There's a couple of clean mugs by the window," he says, of the ones turned upside down to dry on a stretch of plaid patterned dishcloth. "Help yourself." This, as he struggles to think of a reason why Eileen might come this way, dropping his gaze to the wooden table he leans against.

He can at least be certain that she didn't come for the coffee. Her footwear isn't of the lace-up variety and has tapered toes instead of curved ones; women's cowboy boots with rhinestone accents are very chic, but these are old, lack any adornments except for their stitching, and make very little sound when she crosses the floor. More likely a purchase from a Salvation Army than one of the city's many fashion boutiques. Skinny jeans tuck inside and are paired with an oversized sweater and long wool overcoat for additional protection against the cold that permeates the safehouse's brick walls.

No flower in her hair today. The floral accents of her perfume are likewise absent, so there is nothing to temper the reek of tobacco and smoke that surrounds her as she circles halfway around the table and takes a seat opposite Joseph. "We don't come down on the same side of things very often."

Dragging the French press closer, the pastor awkwardly eases it down to gather the grounds at the bottom, flushing the fragrant, clean coffee up for pouring. Watching this activity rather than her, Joseph doesn't immediately respond with words, patiently pouring the steaming liquid into the dark blue chipped mug, an American flag chipped and painted on the curved side. There's enough left for maybe two more cups, and he doesn't seem quick to be pressing to share it.

Either Meredith is coming on up here soon, or it's all for him. Out of the vices that Joseph has known, this one is a little lesser than the others. "No, we don't," he cautiously agrees, sitting back in his chair and keeping his hands clasped around the heated porcelain.

"Bennet's call for central organization is going to attract people who are dissatisfied with the amount of power they have over the network. Susan Ball. Others like her." Eileen rests the tips of her fingers on the edge of the table, and she isn't looking at Joseph when she speaks, which is slightly unusual for someone who is normally very direct and does not shy away from eye contact. She traces the grain of the wood with her thumb. "We're going to see a lot of changes over the next few months," she says. "I'll be leading some of them."

Her thumb reaches the table's corner and curves around it. There's a cigarette tucked behind her ear that she has the courtesy not to smoke. "If our positions had been reversed and you'd stolen Danko out from under my nose, I wouldn't trust you either, but I need to know if you're willing to accept a larger role and a louder voice."

Eyes approximately the same colour as the coffee he's drinking blink on over at Eileen, expression both incredulous and confused — understated as ever. Joseph takes his time, drawing in a deep sip of coffee with his gaze sharply lowered as he does so. Rather than set it down again, he lets it warm his hands as he huddles back in his chair against the cold and possibly in defense of the conversation. "You think there's a place for me in this?" he asks, eventually.

"Because I dunno. I don't like the way Bennet and you run things most times. I don't like what Harkness did to Melissa. And I dunno if I should be fighting it either — the Ferry works well enough, it ain't broken."

"Bennet and I don't always know what's best." Eileen can't speak for Noah, but: "I'm not quite that arrogant." She lifts her hand away from the table, removes the cigarette from behind her ear and maneuvers it between her fingers to give them something else to do, tapping its filter-end twice against the table's surface. Her matchbook and lighter remain in her coat's silk-lined interior, at least for now.

"What happened at the Armory is going to happen again. Not because of Liette, but because we aren't the only ones changing the way we go about our business. I want us to be able to protect ourselves, but I want us to do it in a way that's balanced and takes everyone into consideration. Either we adapt or they shut us down."

The glance Eileen gets over coffee mug, at her claim to not being quite that arrogant, is less than flattering. That Joseph quickly turns his attention back to his coffee is almost apologetic for snark that never made it to words. "You can smoke in here," he finally states, with a chin up to the cigarette she's fidgeting with. "Mer' does all the time, even since we got the kids in. I'm takin' them round to the Lighthouse anyways, if Megan says it's alright. Now that Melissa's taken off and everythin'."

He's getting away from the topic, recognises it with a half smile and a shrug. "So, what you're sayin' is that if you go and make a decision for the good've the Ferry that might not be so correct, you'll need someone 'round to shoot you in the leg too?" And somehow—

That doesn't come off nearly as mean or accusatory as it could be. It's lightly spoken, almost an admission.

It's not the way Eileen would have phrased it, and yet her lips are curling around a faintly rueful smile once she has the cigarette pursed between them and a hand fishing in her coat. "Yes," she murmurs, "that is exactly what I'm saying." Make no mistake: she caught the glance. Isn't going to argue it. Either she doesn't have the energy, or her silence itself is a silent concession.

"There are some other people I'm going to speak with as well, round out the group before I bring it to Matheson and Gitelman for review. Bennet already knows and approves. At this stage in the game, I'm more concerned about consistency and reliability than anything else, and you — Pastor — have both." The use of his old title is Eileen's equivalent to the glance he gave her. Her reasons for coming here aside, she can't quite help herself when it comes to needling him.

Several steps down from putting pills on the table and implying that he needs them. Some progress. "Thank you. For not telling anyone what I did."

A hint of redness floods in as a subtle tone high up on Joseph's cheeks, as if not quite proud of the thing she's thanking him for, as if knowing that the stilted nod he gives her in return isn't quite enough to return the sentiment appropriately. He hurriedly takes a long draw of coffee, nerves soothed almost as soon as he lifts the mug back up. When he lets out a breath, it catches as steam in the chilly air, even inside. "Bennet did that, did he?" He sloshes the coffee around in its porcelain container for a moment, before setting it aside.

"Alright. But I don't want this t'be like the trial. Givin'— promisin' me a voice or— some kind of leadership, under some other pretense, or for appearances. I don't need things t'always go my way or nothin', but I don't like bein' lied to, or manipulated. Least I know you've got it in you t'be honest, even if we fall on opposite sides 'bout most things."

The words come out as a rush around the end, but he doesn't drop his gaze like he's gotten into the habit of doing ever since he was broken out of Bella's batcave.

"If I wanted someone to manipulate," Eileen says, "I'dve picked a more malleable target." It's supposed to be a compliment, and despite Joseph giving her permission to smoke in the house, she refrains from thumbing open her matchbook as she rises from the table. Palms it instead. That he believes she has it in her to be honest comes as a surprise betrayed by the way her response is to turn away from him and angle her body back toward the door.

Snakes are twisty. She can be too. Sinuous movements that would be more flattering if compared to a feline carry her across the room, and her hand holding the matchbook finds the knob again. "But don't think that because I won't, no one else will."

From behind her, there's a soft grunt of affirmation, neutral at best, and then silence as he watches her go. Before she can disappear, he adds, "You're welcome," as belated as it may be. Should she glance back, however, Joseph has taken to settling back in his chair and watching out the window again, profile to her and ringless set of fingers gripping the still steaming coffee mug.

Eileen's reluctance to remain any longer in the safehouse than she has to can be explained by the same set of protocols that cause her to avoid it. More sinister possibilities exist too, but she isn't going to stick around in an attempt to discredit them. The door closes behind her, and the sound of her retreating footsteps echo in the cellar long after she's outside Joseph's immediate earshot.

That's the other thing about creatures that crawl around on their bellies. They don't ever look back over their shoulders.

For the record, Eileen does, but only after she's cleared the hatch and is certain that she isn't in view of any windows that haven't already been boarded up.

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