Something Else


gillian2_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Else
Synopsis It sure is. Gillian comes to offer explanation for their last meeting, and then attempts to receive a normal vision of her own. Keyword being: attempts.
Date May 18, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

There is no mistaking this building as anything but a church, with its arching glass windows and concrete cross fixed to the edge of the pointed roof. Curving stone steps lead up from the pavement to a set of black double doors, often kept closed during the colder weather, but unlocked during the allocated hours written on a blue sign fix to the brick wall. In white, formal lettering, it reads GUIDING LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH and lists its hours of worship.

Through the doors, you first step into an open, nondescript foyer, with access to an unobtrusive staircase headed upwards, and a second hallway leading off somewhere less public also. Mainly, this room opens straight out to the much more spacious worship hall, with immovable rows and rows of pews. A small church, it only seats an absolute maximum of around one hundred and fifty people at a time. It has a high ceiling and is warmly lit, simple and reverent in design, colours light and earthy. The stage before the pews is wide open, with seats off to the side for other pastors and guest speakers, and there is a podium placed off center. On the other side, there is a small organ with music sheets kept nearby.

The noise just won't stop. Is this at all like what he went through every day? Did sounds he never wanted to hear find their way into his ears and jar his senses to the point he wanted to just curl up in a ball and cry? Ever since slamming down the phone, Gillian hasn't been able to get emotions under control enough to remove her heart from the rooftop where she first heard the name. The name that must be hers. Gillian Childs never was supposed to exist.

The phonecall ended a few hours ago, and in an entirely different borough. She kept moving, got on a bus even, crossed bridges until she found herself in Greenwich Village. The building she approaches is not the reason she got on the bus to head this direction, though. Not at all. Originally, she'd intended to visit the woman who said the name first. The woman whose ability has imprinted it into her brain in such a way she can't get rid of it…

It was whispers carried through the air to her ears by an ability she doesn't quite understand that made her approach the Church. A hint of a voice she recognized from one brief meeting. She'd intended to visit him again, to explain herself… and as she pushes the door open and steps inside. Make up smeared or wiped off entirely, her hair falls into her face, covering one of her eyes almost entirely as she looks around the building for the source of that voice.

Since the last time she stepped in her, she's changed very little. But the emotional turmoil dancing around her has grown considerably. At least she's not throwing up on the floor… And the noise seems less in here, as she closes the door behind her.

Time to go home. To get his dog, walk her through the streets of Greenwich, near jerking his arm out of its socket in enthusiasm, pick up some Indian or Chinese on the way and then— and then come back here. As he had last night. As he does so often.

The church is empty when Gillian enters it, as it so often is, but at least at this hour its meant to be, though the doors are still unlocked. Quite suddenly, a whistle pierces through the silence, tuneless at first before carrying out some simple melody, drifting out from some other room within the old chapel, echoing to Gillian's ears and accompanying the sound of metal latches clicking into place, the rustle of leather and the sound of a coat being pulled on. Upstairs, look to left— just as foot steps begin.

A jangle of keys, too, which Joseph is toying with in his own hand, and the whistle, about as cheerful as a Southern Baptist might be expected to be, is cut abruptly when he looks up from his steps down to see he's not as alone as he thought, eyebrows up in faint surprise before recognition. The key he'd been clasping gestures towards her. "I remember you."

She certainly was memorable. There's a flicker of a smile from Joseph, which dies moderately quickly by the time he reaches the bottom of the stairs, as if her sadness were palpable enough to put it out. He's dressed as can only be expected - shiny shoes, pale toned slacks with a tucked in shirt, and a brown weather coat over that. In his hand is a similarly brown leather briefcase, well worn.

Dark clothes don't quite match her mood, but they certainly help augment it. Not that she's been augmenting much else these days. A hand reaches up, pushing hair away from her eye as Gillian regards him. The sounds from him are much softer than the harshness of the street. The acoustics of the building must help with keeping things focused within the room itself.

"Yeah— I remember you too," she rasps softly, pushing the hair behind her ear as she moves further into the church, towards the man whose whispers drew her in. Maybe they'd been imagined. It wouldn't be the first time she saw and heard things. "I mean to come by earlier but I never stopped by the Village until now and…" she trails off, hand touching her lips for a moment as if to stop more words.

"I've had a rough day," she understates, before shaking her head. "But I wanted to tell you what happened, when I came by last time.

She hadn't been imagining it, at the very least. A phonecall had been more or less contained within his office, but certainly spoken, brief and distracted and earnest. Family, you know. Can't live with 'em, can't live—

Can't live with 'em, basically. Joseph's head cants a little at her words, and he nods slowly. "I was thinkin' you might find your way back here," he says, with a half-smile. "You needn't apologise, either, but— " That's not what she came here to do that, that much is obvious. Joseph's dark eyes glance past her towards the rest of the worship hall, before he's angling to gesture up stairs with a wave of his briefcase. "My office is up there, if you'd like to talk. Need to lock up first, but…"

You're welcome is the implication. Locking the doors against other after hours intruders, not to mention any names. Hopefully whatever it is Gillian has come to say is significantly less prickly than Flint's form of conversation, word choices, social ineptitudes deliberate and not.

Family would be exactly the reason she's wandering around the city like a lost woman. Gillian can't quite get rid of the words that were said, and that's all thanks to another thing that happens to be haunting her now. How did he ever deal with that, either?

"Of course— Are you sure I'm not too late to talk? I don't want to keep you from… whatever it is that you do after closing up here…" she says, voice hesitant, even as she moves further away from the door and closer to the stairs.

A glance at her wrist watch tells her a time she already knows, an inaccurate time. The watch isn't about to fix itself, after all, and she hasn't asked the poor man to try since his abilities are still gone. Even after the fight, though… she still wears it. Forever frozen at 3:33.

"Your office is fine, though, thank you," she adds, indicating she'll follow. And she will, as soon as he locks the doors.

There's mostly silence save for the sounds of shuffling feet, foot steps, and the sound of a key turning in the lock, Joseph only giving her a passing shrug— no trouble, really!— at the notion of being kept from whatever he was doing. To be fair, he's often invited for dinner with the Ashbys, and there is usually something to see in this city, postcards to purchase, photos to snap. Just not tonight.

"Right this way."

The stairs veer sharply to the left, a vein through the thick walls of the church, brick and stone and plaster, the stairs themselves wooden and creaking beneath feet. There's a hallway, but they don't explore it, his office the first one to approach which he shoulders open and places his suitcase down beside the door. It's probably surprisingly big, considering the dimensions of the building, if not actually spacious. There's a sofa pushed to one wall, and a desk. No computer in sight, but plenty of books stacked to the side.

Photographs, too, framed and carefully placed. A family portrait of some kind - he was lankier when it was taken, filling out his 6' frame in later years. A solitary image of a blonde woman with her hand up in a salute to shadow the sun from her eyes. A circular image, a painting, an image of Jesus Christ with his hands together in prayer. The degree he got from his seminary is also framed, and nailed to the wall adjacent wall, opposite the one that bears a cross.

"Gillian, right?" Joseph says, sitting down in the swivel chair, almost too executive and comfortable for his plainer surroundings. He gestures towards the couch, the only other spot available.

As she settles into her seat on the couch, Gillian drops the carrier bag down to the floor next to her feet and begins to shed the dark jacket that she wore to shove it into said bag. It's one way to keep all her belongings together, in case she needs to run for it. The longer she stays in the church, the easier the noises fade away. Could be due to her emotions going to a much different place as she glances around the office and the Christian things. There'd been a moment in the church the last time, when she thought a lot about her sister…

"It's been this long as you still remember? You got a head for names," she shakes her head a bit. "I honestly don't remember yours. But I— I saw a lot that night." And she's desperately glad she'd not had the memory thing when it happened. Seeing herself die a hundred different ways was bad enough, but at least she's forgotten most of it…

"Anything I tell you is all confidental and stuff, right? You can't go running off to certain people and pointing your finger at me— can you?"

"Got a head for some names. I'm Joseph." Not 'Pastor Sumter', this time. A one time visit to service does not a Christian church-goer make, after all.

His arms rest on the plastic rests of his chair, hands joining together in a relaxed clasp of fingers, and he nods his head a little in a bird-like movement of hesitation. "I have a moral obligation to keep everythin' I hear within these walls unless I think it'll— deliberately hurt someone later on," Joseph answers in honesty, but he's a little distracted, moving on to asking, "You saw a lot?" His brow is furrowed, his voice full of open curiousity. "Because, you know— the more I think on what happened, I didn't— I definitely didn't mean to give you a vision or anythin'."

"Joseph," she repeats the name, though at least for a while she won't manage to forget it. Gillian settles into the couch, running a hand through her hair as she processes everything. Confidential. Well, the ability she had could lead to something dangerous down the line, but maybe… "It was my fault," she says simply, a grimace as she glances down at the hands in her lap. "What I do— what I did — it effected what you do— made it happen whether you wanted it to or not. And it also… gave me a lot more than I guess your people usually get. I think I saw about… I don't even know how many things. But I saw a lot of stuff. More than I could keep track of."

There's a cautious glance back up at her, teeth clenching mildly before she adds on, "I thought that if I came back I could control it and I could see something normal, but that isn't really an issue anymore. What I could do— I can't do that anymore."

He'd remembered the glow, and impossible mix of light and darkness, a low purple pulse that reflected in her eyes before they'd shut off against the overwhelm of visions. Joseph listens attentively, and it makes sense, adds up, the lines in his face deepening a little in some kind of disapproval. Sorry to hear that. On some level, it's disturbing. No ability should tamper with his Godgiven gift, right? It just—

No. He can see the benefits of her Godgiven gift, and accidents. They happen, goodness knows. An apology is on the tip of his tongue, but he bites back the urge.

What's more disturbing than the idea of God's visions being distorted in ways more blasphemous than Joseph might be inclined, would be this. His gaze sharpens. "What do you mean, it's not an issue anymore? Like it stopped workin' or did…" No, he's not sure what would have happened, and his words trail away into inquisitive nothing.

Oh, but God had nothing to do with her ability at all, if what a certain person had to say meant what she thinks it does… Gillian looks quietly away, examining her fingers once again. Before that's where the glow started, as far as she knew. It'd taken a long time before she saw the glow in her own eyes when it happened. There needed to be a mirror around for that. In one situation it looked brighter than the dark purple that's a normal, moving towards a magenta color.

"It's a long story— but… I guess you can say that my ability changed into something else." The long story part may be something she could explain, but there's so much that would need to be said that she doesn't really have the words for. So much she'd have to divulge. And which point of fact would make the man pick up his suitcase and go straight to Homeland Security? Better not to chance it…

"I could have controlled it before— I just wasn't trying to in the church. I didn't think about it. Not until our hands touched. And by then it was too late."

He's never heard of such a thing, but Joseph knows better to chase down the story. It's part of the job, to listen, rather than to poke with questions to benefit his own curiousity, and besides… if God can give a gift, who could say He couldn't change it according to His will? Likely a scientist would have a harder time to digest her claim, as opposed to a holy man.

A hand is raised, splayed in a gesture. "Well you didn't know I could do what I can do," Joseph excuses, gently. "Considerin' how easy it is, to give a vision, I probably shouldn't be shakin' hands with just anyone all the time. Force of habit." To be polite, that is, but visions too, really. "It's fine, really, I'm just sorry that it was— bad for you. If you were wantin'— a normal kinda vision, I can certainly do that."

The words fall from his mouth before he can actually remember his recent reservations, a trace of reluctance skimming across his face for a moment before his smile is back in place.

"Actually I could use one now…" Gillian says quietly even as she glances from his own hand to hers. It might not matter, though. But she does note the brief glance of reluctance across his face. "I do have some questions that— I dunno. I found out some things about my family and it really bothers me…" They're not her family. They might know what's going on. They were holding her on the line for people who might want to find her.

Taking in a slow breath, she looks back at her hand and stands up, so that she can step closer to where he's seated, leaving the bag behind against the couch as she holds her hand out. "I don't know what this will do anymore— but if I can get a normal vision off of you, it might help me?"

And it might not.

"It might," Joseph agrees, tone as affirmative as his words might not be, the chair creaking a little as he gets to his feet as well, nudging it back towards the desk with a shift of his leg. "What they do— they show you somethin' important. It could happen in five minutes, in the next year, and it's never— it's not a sure thing. They come in symbols, too, but important ones. Ones you're supposed to understand."

He offers his hands out, now, and states the oft repeated advice, "It helps, too, if you close your eyes first."

"Symbols— really?" Gillian says softly, trying to think of the last one she experienced and not being sure exactly how it could have been described as symbols at all. "They weren't exactly symbols last time, but— I guess looking back they could have been… Maybe it was trying to tell me something through— uh— rather obvious symbols." Like that she could die a thousand ways no matter what she does, so maybe all that matters is what she does before she gets there. That would be kind of how she interpreted it.

Closing her eyes, she reaches closer in hopes of making contact easier. What exactly will she see this time?

Within moments, the vision hits. It's distorted. A hall of candles all lit up, a blessing of sorts meant for others. At first there's the sound of an organ playing music. Suddenly the music is broken by a threatening roar of a lion, a dark brown lion that leaps into the hall of candles. A heavy chain that looks as if it should have held back the large male lion, mane wild and darkened. The chain has a broken link, dangling at his side. A gust of wind comes with the roar, with the slashing of claws and biting of teeth.

And all the candles go out, leaving only a faint glow behind on the tops of the burnt wicks. As the hall is swallowed by darkness, the roar and the organ music go silent, leaving only the gusting of wind and shifting of the sea, as if the hall opened up into an ocean that can not be seen.

It's not Gillian that got this vision, though.

Joseph's hands suddenly tighten around her's before a prayer can be uttered, the gentle artificial light of his office suddenly blanking out, the world tipping in favour of this strange new reality. Too late, his eyes clamp shut as he's plagued with vision, emitting a gasp and a wordless noise of protest at the sound of a lion roar reverberating through his head.

His hands wrench free of Gillian's, which he intellectually knows should do nothing to stop it, but there it is. The chair creaks again when he haphazardly backs up to land in it, hand up to grip onto his forehead and going silent save for short, shallow breaths, giving a bodily twitch when the beast in his mind attacks in some unfeeling way, giving way to the sounds of ocean. Of invisible rivers.

When it stops— or seems to stop— Joseph is moving his hand from his head, eyes blinking open, and not saying anything, staring at some spot in the air maybe a foot away from him. Pure shock renders him mute for the moment.

It doesn't take her very long to realize something went terribly wrong. As soon as his hands wrench free, Gillian takes quick steps back, biting her lip and looking distressed as she watches him. There were words of remorse and regret, curses in protest. Not that he heard any of them, but they were said. A rather harsh mouth for a house of God.

When his senses are returned to normal, she's moved all the way back to the couch, picked up the carrier bag. The coat has also been removed, pulled through her arms and she's pushing it up onto her shoulders. " — so sorry," she finishes another of her many apologizes, right in the middle of it. "Oh, your eyes are open. Is it done? I should have— I'm not used to how this fucking thing works." Excuse her language, Jesus, cover those ears. "I really didn't mean to do that. I'm so sorry."

Joseph raises a hand as she continues to speak, index finger up as if to say please hold on a moment but it doesn't have much effect, hand returning to shakily rub at his face. A vision. He got a vision and he wasn't even prepared for it and barely remembers it but he got a vision and is this what it's like to hyperventilate? No. He's breathing quite normally, just his chest is tight and fresh air would be great.

"Gracious. That— that's quite a 'somethin' else'," he says, a little breathlessly, and clasps that hand to the side of his neck as if to check his pulse. Yep, heart hammering away. He needs to— pray, maybe. "No, please, don't be sorry, it's— it's won'erful, I mean— " A fleeting smile. "And kinda terrible but I've never— I can't get visions," he finally explains, looking back at her. "I've tried but it's like what I can do— it's not meant for me— "

Was this blasphemous? No, couldn't be, they didn't mean it. "I'm sorry, I'm— " He slumps back into his seat. "Flustered. Gosh I wish there was a window in this room."

As he actually checks his pulse, Gillian's hands go to cover the lower part of her face, cupping her chin and covering her lips. There's no sign of a smile, even if the beauty mark on her cheek stands out over the hint of always present dimples. It's obvious she too wishes to apologize. "Yeah— it's… something else." And quite a something else it is. "I really should've realized that could happen, I got careless and I thought that maybe it wouldn't and…" She could keep going on and on forever. Apologizing forever.

"I didn't see anything this time, so maybe you got what… was meant for me? Or since you got one I didn't— … nevermind." It doesn't make a lot of sense to her, but… "Are you okay? It didn't… hurt or anything did it? I mean you're checking your pulse and everything."

"It— startled me," Joseph confirms, and shakes his head. "No, it didn't hurt. I just— somethin' attacked me. In it. I think. I didn't expect that, not at all…" He trails off, trying to keep a lid on every thought he's having in every which way. If she projected her vision back at him, then maybe he has an obligation to explain what he saw, but if it's his, then he wants to keep it close, and both options have all kinds of consequences and meanings attached to them, an academic mind leaping ahead to every possibility.

Praying. He'll pray and everything will be fine. "I'm fine," he states, reflecting this notion out loud, and certainly his tone of voices come out a little less jittery. "I was just kinda overwhelmed." Calming down, slowly. "Maybe we should… -n't try that again just yet."

"Yeah— I'd say you're probably right. Shit," Gillian murmurs, cursing into her hands before she finally lets them drop and visibly tries to regain her composure. That's going to cause some problems. She's going to have to stop doing these things before she walks up to someone who really will make her a ticking time bomb. What if she made the bus blow up on the way over here cause a person who sets themselves on fire sat down next to her in the bus?

This ability definitely isn't something she's really ready to deal with… even if she's known she's had it for almost a week now. It's a long week. And she'd been emotionally distraught.

"Do you actually have to touch their skin or does it work through clothes and all that?" She's going to need gloves… Just in case.

Trying to shake off the remains of his own frazzledness, Joseph's attention is drawn back to her completely at her question, something he's never really considered. Such scientific details don't seem like they make sense, to him, as if clasping hands was more out of prayer and connection than function. He thinks for a moment before he shakes his head. "No, it can be done through clothing," he confirms, thinking back to the first time he'd ever bestowed a vision, his arms circled around his wife's clothed waist, tightening when her knees suddenly gave out to the sight of fire and a screaming child—

The chair creaks as he stands up, watching her. "You have what I can do," Joseph confirms, that previous dazzling mixture of awe, excitement and fear grinding to a halt. Disapproval makes his eyes narrow. This isn't good, this isn't good at all. "Look— when I give visions, all I have to do is— will for it. Will 'em to see clearly, will 'em to find a path that leads them to salvation. Hope triggers it. But listen to me— "

His hand goes out to touch her arm, but he thinks twice, draws it back, brow furrowed. "You can't go around and do this, understand? It's— it's God's path you're showin', and you have to be careful about who you do this for, it's probably for the best if you don't— at all. Not unless you understand it."

Gloves won't help. No such a thing as a vision condom. That's so not fair. Gillian can't help but look at her hand as if it's gone and betrayed her, before she looks up and listens to his explaination, nodding wordlessly in comfirmation to some of it, and just listening to the rest. Disapproval. Oh, she doesn't want this responsibility anymore than he wants her to have it. But the very idea she has to will for it to happen— that might be enough. Maybe it won't happen if she doesn't try to make it happen…

"When I touched you I wanted to get a vision. And maybe that counted as the whole… will thing." She wanted it to happen, though at the time she wanted it to happen to her. "I don't really want this. It's yours— so maybe if I just don't… Maybe I can avoid ever making it happen again." She'd certainly like it if she could.

"I won't try to do this to anyone."

Relief unknots tension in Joseph's shoulders he hadn't realised was there. Okay. He nods, once, and offers a wan smile. "Good. Not so long ago, I gave someone a vision— " His hand gestures a little as he backs up, leans a hip against his desk. "Started off a domino effect. A woman's life was saved, but someone got hurt, too, an' it had a murderer come lookin' for me to give 'em a piece of his mind. There's— consequence. Also, people start askin' you about the nature of future and predetermination and believe me there are easier darn questions."

A quirk of a more sympathetic smile follows, and he adds, "Must be a change, for you. T'go from making other people's powers do their thing, through to— to copyin' 'em for yourself. Selfless to selfish. Maybe God wanted you to— to get a sense of what it is you give people, y'know?" A beat, and a chuckle. "Heck, looks like He wanted the same for me."

God wanted her to get a sense of what it is she gives people.

Gillian can't help but look serious as he gives a religious explaination for what happened to her, so far as calling her shift of abilities a shift from selflessness to selfishness. "I don't know what the reason was to make me this way— but if nothing else it is making me understand people's abilities more— understand what they go through when they try to use them. Understand how it makes them feel…" And understand how they make her feel all at the same time.

"If it helped you any, then I'm glad that I was able to give it to you, but I do— get that knowledge of the future or what could happen— it does sometimes create an unfortunate chain of events." The painting she first walked in on. If she hadn't seen it, would so many things have happened? At all?

A murderer came looking for him. There's a strong temptation to ask about it, about the visions, the chains of events, and everything that happened, but he'd obviously not been murdered and there is that much at least. "I think I should go… is it okay if I show myself out or do you need to walk me there?"

If it helped you any. Joseph's gaze drifts a little into recollection of the vision, brow furrowing, and so when she offers to show herself out, he's picking up the keys and holding them out her way. "Just leave 'em in the door, I'll be lockin' up soon. Jus' remember— everything happens for a reason, alright?"

And long since her footsteps have echoed down the stairwell and Joseph's resumed his seat, he's still thinking about lions, candles, and oceans and wondering if indeed, it helped him any.

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