Tests Of Faith


colette_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Tests of Faith
Synopsis Waiting for a man of faith to come by, Colette masks her personal questions behind God.
Date July 5, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station may be many things: dark, damp, isolated and at times hauntingly quiet. But in the heart of summer on one of the warmest days of the year, the subterranean realm of the Ferryman network's supply hub is one very important thing: Cool.

Three hours ago Colette Nichols made a dlivery to Grand Central Station, a much needed package of antibiotics, painkillers and first-aid supplies, something shipped directly from the Ferry's hospital connections straight to the supply hub where people more acclimated to rationing will decide what supplies go where. Admittedly she should have left immediately following the delivery, but the should haves and would haves don't always coincide on the dog days of summer.

Laid out like a lounging housecat in the middle of derelict rail platform beneath Joseph's fish tank mural, Colette soaks up the cold of the concrete and the chilly, damp air of this dark, underground place. Staring up at the flickering fluorescent lamp hanging from the ceiling, her mind is lost elsewheres, thinking back on where she was this time last year, and the destined meeting that set her life on a whole new path.

"Oh!" Joesph is likely the least startling man in New York City, and yet somehow the sound of his voice causes Colette to jerk around with a somewhat stunned look on her face. "Oh I— uh— " she swallows, awkwardly, wringing her fingers around the umbrella again. "I'm— " dark brows press together in a look of either confusion or concentration, "n— not really sure who'm supposed to be talking to? Ah— there's like— " she glances around, then takes a few steps closer. "I guess, like, there's a guy here who can direct me to the Ferrymen?"

Spoken loud, spoken clear, spoken for all of the no one else in the church to hear. However, there's no semblance of notion that Colette has any idea of what she's talking about. "I ah— a frien— nnh— someone I know, I— borrowed this umbrella from her, and," the story begins to become both preposterous and unusual, "she told me to drop it off with uh… the Ferrymen? I— I guess that's like— uh— someone told me to come here and ask about it. Is it like, a donation group or something?"

Despite the lack of waving, a hand goes up at first when Colette startles, instantly apologetic and placating in posture and expression - he does try to be as unobtrusive as possible in basically every circumstance, including this one, but apology dies on his tongue as the young woman stammers out her words. Joseph's eyebrows are drawn into a look of concern, nodding needlessly— and then not moving at all when she says a certain word in particular.

Ferrymen. An uncomfortable silence blankets over them, Joseph blinking rapidly before casting an incredibly self-conscious look around the hall. No one else is here, luckily— or at least, in the flesh, and Alicia the Newfoundland doesn't count— and so he relaxes. A fraction.

"Someone asked you to come here?" he clarifies, skimming over her questions in favour of his own, and he knows that the next thing he should be doing is denying he knows anything, apologising, but— "May I ask who— mm. My name is Joseph Sumter, I'm a pastor, here," he hurriedly, politely adds, thinking to explain his presence, perhaps shed a little light on the matter. "May I ask who— sent you?" That sounds awfully Hollywood.

Just over a year ago to the day, Colette Nichols met Pastor Joseph Sumter and found her home among the Ferrymen. As far as anniverssaries go, this one is pretty understated. Colette had told Joseph something that day they first met, that she had faith. Not faith in the way Joseph has, but faith itself.

Now, she's forced to question that faith, and maybe— just maybe— she'll be able to find a relation to that crisis of faith in Joseph's own checkered past.

Today, staying here in Grand Central isn't just about beating the heat, it's about serendipity.

There are a lot of things that can bring you back to a site that you previously lived within, worked within. Some inexplicable desire to let go, which drove Joseph back to the church itself out of a more pragmatic need to see if its structure could be worked with at all with a builder's eye. Or the need for security and comfort that only somewhere steeped in memory can bring, and he doesn't have many of those. What drove him back down to the underground tunnels of the Terminal was a lot less existential.

He'd forgotten his guitar.

Yes, he has a guitar, with only the shape of the J-45 Gibson available for viewing, contained as it is in its case and slung over his back. Probably easy enough to forget, though it has kept him company multiple times and feels reasonably guilty for having not taken it with him to Gun Hill. The sound of his footsteps vibrates both in Colette's ears and up through her spine from her casual sprawl on the chilled cement. He's head for a tunnel, to begin the long and dark journey to the surface, the currently unlit glowstick tapping against the side of his thigh as he walks, all denim and flannel with sleeves to his elbows.

And a brief, concerned pause in the cadence of his walk at the sight of the girl stretched out. Her recline is exceedingly deliberate, but all the same, worried paranoia has him calling out— "Colette?"

Had he not called out, Colette might have been so lost in her thoughts as to not notice him pass. But that distinctive voice calling out in the cacophonous acoustics of the abandoned subway system is the exact thing she needed. Jolting up into a seated position, Colette's dark hair flops down over one eye as a smile not quite as quick to move as the rest of her body crosses her lips. Scuffing one foot and then the other, she pushes herself up to her feet, brushing off the back of her jeans as she plods on over with clomping bootfalls to the familiar pastor.

"Hey ho Joe!" The cheerful greeting comes with a duck of Colette's head and a furrow of her brows, a sheepish smile crossing her lips as she bites nervously at her bottom lip and hooks her thumbs through the belt loops of her pants at her hips.

"If you're headin' out, I'll walk with ya…" mismatched eyes stare up thorugh ragged, dark bangs to the pastor, and Colette's posture becomes a bit more narrow, more vulnerable in his presence than the feigned strength she often puts on for others.

There is relief that she didn't collapse, and further relief that she's in a good mood, evident in the smoothing out of crookedly concerned eyebrows and then the small smile afforded her as she comes trotting over. Joseph adjusts the sit of the clothed guitar on its strap, its presence making an awkward silhouette out of his. "Sure," he invites, with a wave inwards of a hand, stepping over to then offer it up for her to grip and help herself down onto the tracks, the orange-glowing mouth of a tunnel awaiting them up ahead.

He, too, is probably a relief if one were judging his appearance on wellbeing. Ever since Humanis First, he doesn't actually seem to be eating right, perpetually, but there is no harshness to his demeanor. A little tired, but, aren't we all? "If you ask me how Boston was, I couldn't tell ya," he adds. "But I'm not unhappy to be home. How've you been?"


"You— you were in Boston?" Colette's mismatched eyes go wide, her brows rising towards her hairline and pace picking up so she can walk in front of Joseph, hands waving animatedly as she talks. "Oh my God that's— " and in that moment she's not sure what it is. Sad? Coincidental? Exciting? Massachusetts is so many things to her, all of them a long distance away and a long time ago. "…that's neat," is her ultimately non-comittal answer. "I grew up there," is off-handedly added before she changes the subject.

"M'doin' good. Saw your name on the registry at Gun Hill, and I still have a hard time seein' you." Thinking about her answer, however, Colette stops walking backwards and closes her eyes, making a noisy grumble in the back of her throat. "Ac— actually," her brows crease and the teen draws her teeth over her bottom lip.

"Joe, I…" Colette lifts a hand scrubbing at the back of her neck, "m'sorry I— I actually… am sorta' not okay at all," she admits with a quieter tone. "Been… playing tough so long I almost started to believe it," she adds with a nervous laugh, smiling ruefully. "I actually— I was waitin' here hoping you were around. I guess it's my lucky day."

Boston. Joseph remembers shaking hands with someone and.

Being away, again, only this time he didn't have to divorce any wives. He appreciated the long car rides with someone else driving, waking up with dog fur on his T-shirt and whatever shampoo Kaylee is using for all that hair lingering in the cramped confines of the car's cab even after she left to go get a Coke from the corner store. There is regret, now, though, that he wasn't more curious about the place save for Ferry contacts, or that he didn't actually bring Colette a long. But—

"Next time we do business 'round there, you and me can go," he invites, sincerely, as they start the lightly downhill tread into the illuminated tunnel, with curving brick. His arm moves to bracket her shoulders and pull her in for a brief embrace as they go, when she continues. "It might be. Playin' tough kinda has that effect — what's going on?"

Looking askance to Joseph, Colette's brows crease together and she leans against him as she walks, slipping an arm around his waist. Aside from Judah and Doyle, Joseph's the only man she's been able to share any amount of affection with since moving to New York. It says something for the amount of trust she extends to the pastor. "What'd you see?" Colette's eyes take on a more searching expression as she walks at his side, her expression a mix of appreciation and reluctance in having to burden a burdened man. Even Jesus only had to bear one cross.

"A few weeks ago," Colette elaborates, her attention shifting to the tunnel ahead and how on the edge of Ferrymen territory, everything seems so much more dark. Having reached the edge of the maintained lighting, Colette creates a little of her own for them to share, an ambient glow of colorless light blossoming around the pair to light their way. "The— the things everyone saw, what'd you see?"

The glowstick is also cracked — breaking pressure one-handedly at his hip until soft blue emits from that source, more to contribute to Colette's efforts as opposed to rival them. It services mainly as a guide of a few feet, obstacles indicated by length of shadow as opposed to detail, but most of those that come down here are used to that, by now, and treading carefully so as not to rol ankles without going so slowly as to make the trip not worth it. Vaguely, Joseph can recall his first journeys to the tunnels, a fringe operative at best kindly inducted into the deeper workings of the Ferry when he truly had nothing else anymore.

Even that has an end, anyway, but the tunnels always go on. Right now, his expression is harder to make out in the dimness, but it's gone a little drawn, eyes expressionless thanks to the pooling darkness beneath his brow, but she can see the twist of a frown very visibly — makes the angles of his face a little harsher.

"Uhhh," is his first insightful response.

His arm is still around her shoulders. "I didn't get one, exactly. I don't suppose— no, you— " He shakes his head, dismissing that train of thought entirely. "You know how I jus' give visions, instead of get 'em? Same was true with the mass visions. I— went missing, for a little while, and when I was gone, that's what. That's what came of it. All those visions." He silences into awkward quiet, glowstick held out and ghostly light tracked.

That's where Colette loses her footing. She falters, more so than trips over anything — other than her own two feet — and Colette's attention focuses up in a stare to Joseph. She'd heard about it, the rumors at the meetings, but actually hearing it straight from the horse's mouth is so much harder to deal with. Quietly staring down at her feet, Colette's brows furrow and she steps back to Joseph's side, wrapping her arms both around him and resting her forehead against his chest. "M'sorry…" she mumbles against him, her eyes shut.

"Why— why do people keep trying to hurt you?" Colette's fingers curl against Joseph as she shakes her head, nose pressing against the middle of his chest before she leans away, fingers still staying gripped to the fabric of his shirt. "But— but— but if it was… if it was yours then— then don't your visions come true?" There's the faintest quaver in Colette's chin, a hint of emotion she doesn't want to show stamped down.

"Everyone's always said your visions come true…" and in that tone Colette is pleading, not to an answer, but for comfort. She's hoping that there's still a way to avert whatever it is she saw.

He gladly halts to allow for the embrace, guilt making subtle creases at the corners of his eyes but there's no hesitation in securing both arms around her, warmly. "I dunno," Joseph answers, on the edge of a sigh — and perhaps wisely, goes into no more detail than he already has. Only assures her that he's okay now, in the squeeze of a hug and the rest of his hand high up her back. "And— well. Yeah. They usually come true," he responds, cautiously.

His hands perch upon her shoulders, and he eases her back a fraction, enough that it won't tip her had back too much to look up at him. Just next to her ear, the soft blue of the glowstick lights up the side of her face, makes her dull, blinded eye all the more pale.

"But futures change, too. Mine do. Nothin' stays the same if you know what's comin' — knowledge is a kind of power. Don't mean that fate won't carve a path for you that you'll stumble down anyways, whether you see it or not, but— the visions are meant to be signposts of what's to come, and you can either find a way to react to the inevitable and steer yourself, or— or not, I guess." Joseph heard that hope in her voice and instinct has him offering both truth and reassurance, even when he doesn't quite know what he's comforting someone from.

A trait he's even been mocked for, criticised for, knocked him off the course of being a pastor entirely, for a while. But old habits die hard.

Blinking her eyes closed, Colette nods her head and lifts a hand up and away from Joseph, rubbing the heel of her palm at one eye. She doesn't make any apology for the outburst of emotion, Joseph's one of the people that — as Ygraine had said — she can break on. Smiling away a tearful expression, Colette moves over to a lightless subway bench, reaching out for the armrest and lowering herself down to sit on it, apologetically smiling at her own need to take a pause, even if the light of the Ferry-maintained tunnels are still visible behind them.

"I…" Colette hesitates, looking down to her lap then up to Joseph. "I saw some… some bad things, I mean— in the vision. M'not gonna' let it happen if I can help it I just…" making a disconcerted noise, Colette's expression takes on that look of desperation and plea it had briefly attained earlier.

"Joseph," and so comes the question most people of faith struggle with, "why… why does God let bad things happen to people?" Colette has an ulterior meaning here, a double-entrndre in a way, Joseph's faith and her faith. "I mean if— if he can see all the bad things, if he's all-knowing why— why's he let us hurt?"

It's not an unknown question, to Joseph, both from the mouths and others and rattled around his own head in varying degrees of anger or betrayal. It's what any Christian might wonder, and more than that, too. Adjusting the guitar case strap at his shoulder, Joseph follows her a few, scuffing steps. "Kind of like when— a parent knows they need to let their kids make their own mistakes and learn," he says, gently — nothing he'd truly know about in practice. Not yet, anyway. What he might not give for seeing his own future. "But not exactly the same, I don't think. Because it's not all about mistakes we do.

"Some things just happen, as we know. Earthquakes and terrorist explosions. But it's all a part of a plan. God, He gave us free will. That's the crux of it. He gave us the ability to choose what we do and don't do, and He gave us the Bible to guide us if we choose to take it up — His own words, commandments, His son sent to teach us and die for us.

"I know it's— a little heavy handed if you ain't a Christian," he adds, gently, though doesn't seem to be referring to Colette directly, as he comes to shoulder off his guitar, set it down, sit down next to her. "It's why some people ain't, I suspect. But bad things happen because people choose to do them, because that's their right, God-given, and they'll pay for it, in the end. As for us, we need to consider it like a test. God, He's eternally loving, but He ain't in the business of making things easy for us."

Dark brows crease together, and Colette folds her hands in her lap, shoulders rolled forward as she gives considerable attention to nothing in particular, her eyes more distant than focused. She's struggling with it, which is understandable. "Like a test…" comes off of her tongue easier than she expected, and that she finds comfort in focusing on that part more than others. "So… God's, like— testing us for… for what?" Leaning forward, Colette rests her elbows on her knees, hands holding her chin as she looks side-long to Joseph.

"Is he… testin' our niceness or something? I mean… I dunno, is— " Colette's nose wrinkles, "is he testin' our ability to like, stay faithful? Even when things're goin' wrong?" Everyone stumbles through parts of faith like this, and it seems Colette is no different, even if what she once had faith in is a more terrestrial and tangible thing.

Most people say they love God, Colette happens to be more literal with that. Joseph's never kissed his God before.

Leaning right back, Joseph hooks his elbows up against the back of the bench, fingertips playing off each other as he, in turn, studies the toes of his boots — dust scuffed and scratched as they are picking up the debris and wear and tear of trekking up and down these tunnels. "Somethin' like that," he responds, ever-cautious, as if wary of setting the girl on the wrong track of understanding whereas he's had so many years to come to terms with the nuances of Christian learning. "More that He allows these things to befall us for reasons, for free will, and we should consider 'em to be tests instead of—

"Instead of lettin' it ruin us for Him. Instead of lettin' these bad things knock us off the road to salvation, why don't we let it test us and strengthen us so we can learn from it? I know it ain't easy," he adds, with a raise of an eyebrow, a wry bent to his smile. "Believe me when I say it ain't."

Nodding shallowly, Colette looks lost in her thoughts again, attention down on the bangle of colored stones hung at her wrist maybe it's a flower, but she'll swear up and down that it's a butterfly. "I…" she almost gives a deferential and dismissive string of words, but when her eyes alight back to Joseph again, Colette realizes that she does need to break on people sometimes, in so much as that they can help her.

"I saw myself dying…" is said with a voice so small and an expression so fragile that for once, Colette looks her age, looks to be the part of a frightened eighteen year old girl struggling to deal with things no one her age should have to in a normal society. Running her tongue over her lips, Colette shakes her head slowly. "I saw— someone I love, and someone I trust, stab me." Jaw unsteadied by the words, Colette had figured they'd get easier to relay over time. Some things never get easier.

Unsure of why she said that, Colette nervously pushes to her feet and rubs one hand at her forehead. "I— don't wanna' die…" Colette whines softly, keeping her back to Joseph, one hand still bracing her head. "But— but what if that's what's supposed t'happen— what— what if that's all a part of the plan? How— how do I…"

How do you sit down and die?

"Colette." Joseph should probably be given a round of applause. There is none of the shaken fear, anxiety or guilt that he felt all in three-part harmony vibrating through him like a bass beat when she gave that confession, none of it in his voice when he says her name. There is a slight bloodlessness to his expression, but she's not looking at him anyway. Still, he's pushing himself not to stand, but to sit further on the edge of his seat.

A hand goes out and snags her's, warm, bedside manner. "If it's a part of the plan, it comes to be. But what happened to me— me showin' all those futues, letting people see God's will, that was a part of it too. Maybe it's supposed to warn you, and you know— you know now, who to trust, or stay away from. Or who not to piss off, I guess."

This, said with a subtle, wretched smile in his voice. His hand squeezes. "We all die. Many different ways. This don't mean it has to happen in November, you hear me? And theirs nothin' godly in sittin' back and letting it be. Fatalism ain't Christian."

Tensing just for a moment when her hand is taken, Colette looks back at Joseph with wide eyes. Silence should come with apprehension, given her expression, but instead it's a firm grip of his fingers in hers. She turns more fully, still in her stony silence that is perhaps more comforting to Tamara, given her tendencies to interpret the unspoken words as well as the spoken ones, for a moment of silence to say a thousand words. For Joseph, all he's afforded is her fixed stare on his, her hand gripping his own, and then her slow advance back towards him.

Colette's hand comes free of Joseph's and she leans forward, wrapping her arms around his shoulder and letting her cheek brush his. To hell with what had been said about her being too affectionate, there's ways she conveys things to those she trusts, and a hug — no matter how it's given — is something she feels the need to give.

Squeezing that embrace just a little tighter, Colette closes her eyes and nods in slow fashion, burying her face against Joseph's shoulder. I'm gonna' avoid it…" she whispers, "I'm gonna change it." There's both weakness and determination in her tone, like a kitten that has been riled into anger. Acting all ferocious, but it's still just a kitten.

His hand comes to cup the back of her head, warmth of her skull soaking through her dark hair and warming his slightly cooler hand. The other arm is looped below her shoulders, holding her with the ease of someone comfortable with the presence of another. There's a whisper of a chuckle at her words, but it's relief as well as amusement, and Colette is rewarded with a squeeze. "Yeah," Joseph agrees with her, simply, and allows the embrace to linger for whatever's natural until his arms loosen, though he isn't pushing her away this time.

"This'll be the first time I don't feel so bad about what happened. Nothin'll excuse how many people got hurt that day, how many died. But least now I know it did somethin' good. That it warned you."

"You always do good," Colette struggles to say, throat tightening a little at the end. Reaching out one hand, she intentionally messes up his hair, raking it back with thin fingers against the way he had it combed, then just musses her hand around over those dark locks with a wrinkle of her nose and a smile. "All you know how t'do is good… an' you do enough of it to try'n make up for people like us who screw up every once in a while, an' need a helpin' hand up."

Furrowing her brows, Colette bites down on her bottom lip. She's quiet for a time, then moves her hand down from Joseph's hair and pokes the end of his nose. "Preach," she says as if that was his preach button or something. "There's a church on Roosevelt Island, ain't got many people at it and it's some sorta' multi-faith thing. You," she says with a twirl of her finger near his nose again, "need to get back to being you…"

As Colette's hand lowers, there's a smile spread across her lips. "'Cause there's a whole city of people out there… just like me," her smile grows, "who need you."

If one made the same beep gesture to his dog, Alicia, she'd probably do similar to what he does now — head pulls back a little, confused blink and a tolerant kind of glance from her hand to her eyes.

He lets out a breath of a rueful chuckle, doubt immediately rushing in to cloud his demeanor, but he clamps down on instant denial and refusal. Reaching down, Joseph grips the strap of his guitar case and hooks it up onto one stocky shoulder as he goes to stand in the same motion. "Me and you can go take a look, then," he concedes, with a head tilt to invite her to keep walking with him. His hand holds out the glowstick, displaying the next— five feet of their journey or so, in its throw of blue illumination.

"Though f'r now we should get a move on — we won't be seein' a heck of a lot if this thing dims out before we hit the— something'th avenue." New York City geography — Joseph only has a passing grasp.

Smiling enthusiastically, Colette nods her head and concentrates on that glow-stick's light, letting a more full radiance blossom outwards from it as she takes a few scuffing steps backwards. Wrinkling her nose, Colette walks around the bench and then towards a stairwell that will lead up one level to another rail platform. Lingering at the doorway, the teen nods her head and laces her fingers together behind her back. "C'mon then, while the gettin's good. We'll go see if they're interested in a singin' preacher with a heart of gold and a song in his heart!"

She's just teasing now, and is a testament to Joseph's personability that he was able to turn her around, from introspective and doubting to something more like herself. "If the light goes out, I can always hold your hand and show you the way…" she smirks, knowingly, at the sentiment.

"It'd only be fair to return the favor."

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