That's A Start, Ain't It?


brennan_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title That's A Start, Ain't It?
Synopsis Joseph and Brennan have a conversation in the basement of The Garden.
Date April 30, 2010

The Garden - Basement

True to Eileen's word, whatever Brennan needed, he only had to ask. The space heater used whenever possible to make the basement not do bad, material to read when he asked for it, meals brought down. Much like in the Institute, Brennan remained as always, a model prisoner. Not a happy one, but a model one.

News of Kaylee's hasn't filtered to him yet, and his inability to see Liette and see how she's faring has not weighed easily on his shoulders. This was never what he imagined when he first accepted Megan's request to help, or when the blonde haired teenager was dropped in his lap. Sitting on the cot that once was occupied by Deckard, knee's apart, elbows resting on them as he reads, he's growing back more stubble that Michelle would not approve of. Wednesday has come and gone by his estimation and there's nothing happening.

Rather than the cautious hesitancy with which Joseph approached this room when it was occupied by Flint Deckard, he knocks, first, before levering open the door anyway and coming on down. The Garden has been doing a good job of fighting the cold, although only so much — while Joseph has been able to shuck his arctic coat, he's still bundled in a thick sweater jacket over other layers, and hasn't gone ahead and removed his scarf just yet, hands in red and brown mittens that he's peeling off as he moves down the stairs.

"Sorry it's taken me a while to come down here," he apologizes by way of greeting, having still not actually tried to make eye contact. "But then I guess you weren't really waitin' for me to show up. How's it goin'?" At least it doesn't smell like pee down here anymore.

"I'm not really expecting anyone. Well, if they're not bearing food or books or telling me that I'm free to go instead of staying down here longer" Brennan closes the book, thumb marking his spot in so he can open it up again and save him paging it all to find his spot. "Good.. day?" A glance to his watch and a nod. "Good day Sumter, how are things outside the door?"

"Cold." At the bottom of the staircase, where it noses around to face the wider room, Joseph lowers himself to sit, huddling a little with his knees together and arms wrapped around his midsection and letting out a steamy breath of air in a sigh. From the dampness set into his dark hair and the warm flush to his face, it's probably obvious that upon arrival at the Staten Island safehouse, he made his way straight down after shedding his winter coat. "I ain't seen it with my own eyes, but Kaylee's back with us now. Unhurt, and she don't remember a thing about what happened at the Institute. But I thought you'd like t'know."

'Doesn't surprise me. My time spent there, they had talked about that, erasing memories if I didn't agree to play fetch" Joseph is here to stay for a bit, so the corner of the page is turned in and the tome tossed to the one side of the bed. Space heater is unceremoniously turned on and then turned so that it faces the Pastor proper. Give him a bit of heat where otherwise, it normally does just for Brennan's area.

"Good she's back then, unhurt. Should probably have someone look her over, Megan, if you haven't already and Liette Has she met her parents yet or do they still have her sedated" No accusatory tone there, not this time. Just curiosity as to whether they have remedied the situation or not. "Were the three Ferry released like they asked?"

That Joseph's hands go out, fingers fanning and palm open, as if to soak the heat emitting from the spaceheater, probably expresses his practical gratitude as opposed to saying the word 'thanks'. His fingers are still cold-nipped from the cold, and he rubs his fingertips together to gain back feeling. "Eileen's probably arrangin' somethin' like that. We got a couple of doctor-types floating around. Not many," he adds, and now glances at Brennan, an evaluating once over ensuing. "And yeah, we got the three Ferrymen back.

"Sorry, I dunno about Liette. I woulda thought so— do think so— but I haven't checked in," Joseph states, honestly. "I can try and git word on that for you, though, but I imagine you're not supposed to be down here much longer."

"Good, good" That they got the Ferrymen back. Some of them. Brennan's hands clasp together, rubbing back and forth before he lifts them to his face, rubbing across it, two fingers remaining behind to scratch at his jawline before dropping them back down. 'We'll see how long I'm down here. Whenever they decide I'm worth letting out again. Were you just delivering messages Sumter?"

"Do I look like a messenger boy to you?" is more gentle than snide, accompanied with a brief if very wan smile. Joseph's legs unbend a little as if contemplating leaving, but he remains seated instead, hands clasping together in his lap. "Ferry does a lot of things it's not really built to do. This thing with Liette — I don't regret bringin' this into the network, you know, but I regret not understandin' what you thought you were getting into, or what you thought of us. I ain't real sure what to do with you anymore, Harve — except talk to you in private, 'stead o' watch you like a bull in a rodeo at the Ferrymeets."

"Guess I'm just the messenger boy then" Eyes half lidding for a moment before he looks down ten off to the side with a shake of his head.

"No regret needs to be on anyone's shoulder than mine for not having done the smart thing and just not surfaced into the Ferry when she got put in my care. We were doing fine two feet away and I am a fully capable adult of caring for a teenager and avoiding the technopath that wanted her. I'm the one that got me into this circus act"

He resettles his feet, stretching his own legs out a little. "As for what to do with me. Well, one option seemed to be put a bullet in my head, but I'm pretty sure my wife wouldn't take to that at all and that wouldn't bode well for the ferry. She can't hold a candle to the teenager who's doing this, but she can get pretty weather nasty on her own."

"You're a doctor. Stop bein' a moron." …could be gentler, but it's not filled with the venom it could be, or any particularly sharp edges. It's firm, tired, and direct. Joseph remains seated and small for his 6' frame on the end of the stairs, looking across at Brennan as if trying to read him. "We're not gonna kill you. Goodness. I don't know what you think this organization is, but Megan shoulda done a better job at makin' sure you knew before you were ever invited in. Maybe I shoulda done before approachin' you at all."

Bringing his hands up, he scrubs at his face, then opens his palms in gesture. "Stop callin' us a circus. Stop actin' like this all went wrong because of us. If you hadda been straighter with us, had of trusted us, then this would not be the mess it is. If you hadda kept Liette to yourself, she'd be in that kidnapper's lab right now, her father and her mom on the outside and wonderin' what happened to their little girl.

"I dunno what changed, Brennan. I dunno exactly what we did to you. We ain't the enemy — this Institute is the enemy."

"You weren't at the meeting that got me put down here. That was one of the options if I didn't go down here Sumter." Brennan snaps back at the pastor seated across from him. "I think this is an organization that I shouldn't have gotten involved in. You stockpile weapons in safehouses Sumter. Pile them like Armageddon is coming. In almost all of them that I went to. I got yelled at by Andy because I dared to let Else and Delilah get taken when the first had no business being in a safehouse that sick and the second chose to stay there. I tried to leave with Liette in midtown when we had strangers up top and strangers down below and ended up getting super strengthed into a wall because someone didn't like me saying no to them.

One palm comes up to take place of where his elbow was on his knee, leaning to the left, arm bent. "If I had have kept Liette to myself, then we sure wouldn't be in this predicament right now. Maybe a whole other predicament, but we wouldn't be facing a flooding or an ice age from an upset teenager. If I had have been straighter with you?"

Brennan ducks his head, shaking it before looking up towards the ceiling of the basement. "If I had been straighter with you. I didn't know anything about that girl when I first stepped foot in the Terminal, and then here. Not in the least. I knew she was fifteen, her ability, and that I was tasked with keeping her safe. That's what I knew. You might not be the enemy Sumter, but I sure learned that the Ferry, sure as hell isn't my friend"

Joseph's expression is impassive — despite his opening line, it's clear he's not interested in an argument so much as allowing both himself and Brennan say their pieces, though there is a certain amount of force to his own patience, as if it's a struggle to keep it. "We stockpile weapons 'cause we got terrorists like Humanis First trying to stop what we try to do," he says, gently. "Ones who would mow us down. Because there are arms of the government that aren't as honest as both you and I would like to imagine. The Ferry's gotta be prepared to defend what it's doing if it's wants to do anythin' at all.

"I respect you if you don't want nothin' to do with it, but I think you're wrong. You want to stay at a safehouse to keep Liette protected, whether you think you should never have done so or not? Then you listen instead of tell them no, Harve, because they are tryin' to do what's best for the safehouse — an' that includes the people in it. Liette. Yourself. It's exactly what I'm talkin' about — you didn't trust them at the Armory and you didn't trust the network, ever, and that's how you weren't straight with us.

"Never mind Liette and what you knew and didn't know about her. You shoulda told me to take a hike. I'll agree with you on that count."

He stands up, now, grim, pushing his hands into his pockets. "No one'll have to tell you to stay out of the Ferry, Harve, because I suspect you're gonna do that on your own. I wanted to ask if you could refrain from sellin' us out sometime in the future. Or gimme a heads up if I get the wolves at my door. I don't think I did you so wrong to deserve any less."

"It's amazing to me there seems to be this idea that I've sold you all out." His hand comes out, fingers arranged as if around a ball. "If I was going to sell you all out, I wouldn't have demanded two cases of vaccine with which to do as I please with, which is currently in Ferry hands. No need to steal it from inoculation tents this time."

Brennan shrugs his shoulder. "Selling you all out, I could have lead them to the terminal, the brick house, the other places I have been. That there's an assumption that I will sell you all out.. trust runs both ways Sumter. I can't get behind an organization that will bring and use guns with real bullets and kill government folks who come with rubber bullets. And Tien slammed me against a wall when I told him my responsibility was to Liette, and his was to everyone else in that safehouse. I had a plan. So until you've been there, were there, you can't presume to know what happened or how we felt."

His lips press together, shaking his head again. "I gotta trust what I know, what I see, and not what some hair brained woman who's so smug and can't hear me asking her what she wants me to do for all the flapping that her lips are doing. Last time I saw weapons stockpiled like that, it was to mow down groups of people who's only sin was being born and dislike by the people with gun. The ferry do, what they do, and I don't agree with things that I've seen as the deeper I've gone. What Megan, what others told me this organization is.. not what I've seen it to be. I'm disappointed"

Brennan looks up at the pastor, lips pressed together. "Locked in a basement gives me plenty of time to think"

"I don't assume anything. I assume that if I ask you, you'll answer me. If I assumed you'd sell us out," Joseph states, stepping up a stair behind himself, back down again onto the floor, "then I wouldn't be here at all. So I'm just gonna ask you again: are you gonna take off, or are you gonna break things?"

He pauses, then seems to brace himself as he adds, "And if you want to stick around, I can try show you the things that make this network worth it. I'm a man of God, Harve, I wouldn't put my faith in somethin' that you seem to think it is. There's good here too, if you want to find it. I can help you."

"No ones going to trust me Sumter. I work for the Suresh Center, I did a press conference advocating that people come forth to receive treatment for H5N10 on behalf of the Department of Evolved Affairs. Besides being supposed to play messenger and bring back Liette, I'm an employee of the institute. IT was either take up their offer of a job that wouldn't conflict with my personal morals, or i'd end up much like Kaylee and my family would have god knows what happen. Tell me Sumter, would you trust me with a ten foot pole after this?"

"I would," Joseph states, with a loose shrug. "If you told me I could trust you, and you wanted to help Evolved like we want to help Evolved, I could trust you. The Suresh Centre ain't a bad thing to me, the press conference was what it was, a media spectacle, I don't care. The Institute situation is as bad for you as it is for us, and I'm not the kind to just cut people loose. Stop actin' like a kicked dog, Brennan, I wouldn't be here, offering this, asking you a simple question, if I didn't have the capacity to trust you. So you tell me."

"You're not everyone else Joseph" Brennan points out. His hands lifts, run through his hair and scratch behind his ear. "I've done nothing wrong but care for that girl. Do what's best for that girl to the point of leaving my family for too long. I'm not going to tell you to trust me. I'm going to let you decide whether you want to trust me or not Joseph."

The look Brennan gets from Joseph is blank incomprehension, black eyed and fixed, before he shakes his head. "You've told me you could sell us out. You haven't taken responsibility for your actions. You think the Ferry is some kinda hivemind and you clearly know nothin' about what we do, not really. My door's open but I ain't making the same mistake twice — you want me to trust you, you want anything to do with this, come find me."

There's a curse under his breath, before Joseph shakes his head and starts up for the door. "Otherwise, have a nice life."

"No, I clearly don't, because that's how it was liked. Less I knew, the less people could get from my head if I was read by a teep. God damnit Joseph, what the hell do you want me to do? I want you to trust me, because to me, in my eyes, I have done nothing wrong!" Up from the cot Brennan rises, his boots thumping softly on the floor.

"I didn't want to sit down here, but I had to. There's no responsibility to be taken for that. Sit here, or get shot in the head, that was Eileen's ultimatum. I didn't want Kaylee to go with them, I tried to stop her. I don't want to be part of a group of folks who will use those weapons like they were used in the midtown because they're afraid. I don't want anyone to be afraid"

"I don't want this god damned city and the coast to sink into an ice age. I'm just a doctor Joseph, I'm a god damned doctor who hasn't done this lay low shit since I was with Michelle out in Africa. Subterfuge and this game that the Ferry is playing with the institute of delay and hope they don't come down on the group is not what I'm meant to do. If it was me, I'd have brought her to them. But she's got parents now. Parents."

He stops partway up, giving a sigh and then looking down towards Brennan, clear conflict in his expression. "She's got parents now. Because of the Ferry. Because we had the resources to pull three people together who were wildly apart," Joseph utters, hands resting on the railing. "I'm just a pastor, Harve. I ain't— a thief or a soldier. But I recognize that some o' those thieves and soldiers make sure I can do what I need to do, which is help people in need.

"Months ago, we had a Humanis First terrorist who burned down my church, murdered people, at the mercy of the Ferry. We took a vote. We didn't vote to execute him — we ain't all Eileen, do you understand that? The most wrong thing you've done is sweepingly judge us and insult us because of the Institute's actions and what we felt we had to do to keep people safe. They didn't mow us down with real bullets because they wanted us alive. And I know as good as any that that ain't mercy, Harve.

"Do you trust us?"

They aren't all Eileen. Of late, it sure seems like it, the people he's been exposed to. Brennan puts one hand on his hips, turning away from Joseph to scratch and rub across his jaw. He's thinking, it's seen in the imaginary smoke that pours out of his ears and the wheel with the gerbil that runs runs runs. Weight shifts from one side, then the other.

'I trust you and I trust Megan. The two of you… have never done me wrong."

Joseph's fingers fan out, resettle against the railing, as he seems to consider these words. "Well," he says, after a moment, "that's a start, ain't it?" He sweeps his gaze over the basement room, before muttering, "I'll see what the plan is with how long they're expectin' you to stay down here," and with that, resumes his move back for the door, stairs creaking beneath his boots as he goes.

Brennan turns away, not answering the pastor back as he heads upstairs, returning to his own post down on the cot. Knee's to elbows, hands clasped, head lowered and thumbs together tracing across the lines that mark his forehead. Brennan remains silent.

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