The Gospel of Luke


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Scene Title The Gospel of Luke
Synopsis Deckard breaks into an old haunt to escape the weather and is surprised to find it occupied. As the occupant, Joseph is surprised to find a gun pointed in his face. Patience, kindness and threats of mutilation ensue. Feel free to guess which belongs to who.
Date March 21, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

Ho HO.

Hazy cloud cover clotted thick overhead succeeded in smothering out the moon around an hour ago, the storm sagging and sickly in its not-quite wintry constipation. For a short time it hesitated — sleet, to snow, to sleet again. Now it's raining. Hard. The heavy fall of water bounces back up off of asphalt and concrete, seeking some place that isn't already saturated to sink in.

The wind that brought the weather here is still blowing, ripping at the sodden drag of Deckard's overcoat while he fumbles a bit of metal into an unfamiliar lock. The knob is familiar. The door is familiar. So is the interior — cross braces and even pews that he's seen before through storms past in months past all mostly where they should be. The walls are thick and solid. The roof has no holes. It's a good place to stay. He just. Doesn't. Recognize. The fucking. Lock.

Frustration furled out in a blast of foggy heat, he takes a deep breath and tries to recenter himself, demon eyes squeezed shut before he narrows them back down on the device. In goes this bit of metal, in goes the other, a lift here, a twitch there and finally, he watches the last pin nudge delicately into place. Click.

The click is a sound that echoes through the stone-walled church. Over pews towards a podium, it fills the high-ceiling cavernous space as if it were something much greater than the shifting of metal of a lock being forced to break apart the way locks do. No one is there to hear it, however, save for the shadows.

It's the ensuing creak of the door that gains attention from upstairs.

Inside it's dark as it should be this late at night. The rain makes streaks over glass windows and distorts what little light makes it inside - enough to see basic shapes but not much else, although some of us are at an advantage in that regard. No moonlight can possibly peak through the heavy, hazy weather in the sky, but plenty of street lamps provide a little ambiance, glinting off polished wood and metal.

It smells cleaner. The carpet's been seen to, apparently, and the scent of dust polish steals away from what should be musty abandonment. There's also a new donation box nearby. Also, towards the right, the barest hint of light from above peaks around the corner of a stairwell, and is soon filled with shadow and the sound of footsteps. Of someone trying to be quiet but with floorboards that refuse for this to happen.

Deckard's nostrils flare with an attentiveness so instinctive that it doesn't actually manage to register as anything more specific than a generalized wrongness about the state of the place. Hair plastered to his head and eyes ringed vivid blue in darkness that means about as much to him as the supposed sanctity of this place, he's slow to slide his wary way in through the door, and slower still to close it behind him. This, of course, does little more than make the resultant screeeaaaak draw itself out even more.

Two feets they come a creepin'
Like a black cat do

Numb, trembling fingers nudge carefully shaped metal into the interior of a soaked-through suit and are quick to take hold on the more substantial weight of a his revolver. It's tugged free in relative silence, everything about him slow. Quiet. Even the trickle and drip of residual rain from the tail of his coat and the scruff on his chin is muffled by the carpet.

Then there's the tell-tale winding click of a hammer being settled back on its haunches. Someone else is here.

He probably should have at least taken the phone with him. As it happened, Joseph's hand drifted towards the outdated telephone on the desk he'd been seated at, thought twice, and pursued the noise alone. No need to alert the police over, perhaps, his imagination.

Leaving the light of the office behind, Joseph moves into the darker stairwell, hand trailing along the railing as he goes, steps now a definite sound that muffle, to his ears, the click of a gun's hammer being drawn back, eyes automatically going towards the opened door and the fresher sound of rain beating against pavement, the smell of water almost as noticeable as the trapped heat escaping the building, making him shiver under his clothing.

"Can I…?" Step, step, step, until almost level with the stranger, and only then does his heart start to pound. But that would be reaching conclusions, gaze swiveling from the open door and back to the man. "…help you?" Despite that sentiment, his voice tightens with wariness and uncertainty. It's late.

There's no answer at first. Just a pair of spectral eyes glowing cold against the darker backdrop of a tall and very wet man standing black before the cracked door. The outline of a gun on his hand is unmistakable. The fact that it's pointed directly at Joseph on the stairwell: also difficult to misinterpret.

"How long have you been here?" Of all the questions, how this one found its way to the forefront, there's no telling. Deckard doesn't look quite sure himself, annoyance debased by a rickety shiver that forces another hard blink out of him. His left hand stays at the door, ready to sling it open or push it the rest of the way shut depending on how the next few seconds go.

It's the eyes that make Joseph stop approaching, hand gripping the rail a little tighter, which means it takes a second to glance down and see the barrel of the pistol aiming somewhere towards his torso. Oh my. His jaw clenches for a moment and draaags his eyeline up from the gun to try and meet the glowing blue of the other man's eyes. He can't quite remove his hand from the railing.

"One day," he says, shortly, manages to force a corner of his mouth up in a half-smile. First night in New York, he has a gun pointed at him. It can only get better from there, at least. "My name's Joseph, I… I'm a pastor here." He tilts his head to indicate the rest of the church. "Did you— " His brow creases, hesitation in his voice even as it becomes a little firmer. "Did you need…?" Money, shelter, a hug? Everyone has needs.

"One day." Of course, one day. And that one day would be today. The day he decided to run for Greenwich when the weather turned on him. Deckard laughs the usual breathy, humorless laugh, teeth tightening in their clench to cut it off a little uncomfortably short. Drip. Drip. Drip drip. He turns his head, water rubbed off nose and brow into the sopping brace of his shoulder and sleeve.

From there he follows Joseph's indicative tilt, attention twitching sideways over the restored church. The gun hasn't moved much. If anything, at the insinuated offer of needs fulfilled, his grip readjusts and tightens, knuckles bone white at suspicion's prompt. "I need to sleep."

The words just kind of trip out of his mouth, incredulous before they manage to fall upon his own ears, never mind Joseph's. He almost laughs again. Almost. "I've stayed here before. One night. Just — I won't bother you again."

One finger, two finger, three finger. Joseph is slowly trying to relax these digits from the railing, prying tensed up tendons until he can raise both of his hands in a mild sort of gesture for the other man to calm down. Which is difficult, as the man is reasonably calm already - he's just armed, and Joseph doesn't really have enough experience at this to decide if that's better or worse. Keeping those hands in sight, Joseph— makes a step towards the stranger, finally leaving the stairs altogether and trying to keep looking at demonically blue glowing eyes and not the pistol, which is incredibly difficult.

"This… We don't really have appropriate facilities, but we have a few numbers for shelters…" Some of that Southern starts to leak into his voice as he talks a little more, and he hesitates. Stayed here before. Also: gun. And glowing blue eyes that for some reason he now can't stop staring at.

"One night?" he repeats, an eyebrow raising, then lets his mouth form a line and adds, "Can you lower your weapon? I'm not gonna do anything."

"I'm not staying in a fucking shelter." Incredulous apology turns over into a snarl in an unbridled rush of adrenaline. Deckard's arm stiffens still further, gun snapped up into a fix on the point right between the cavernous sink of Joseph's eye sockets. Nothing sympathetic about those.

The muzzle quivers, shakes. Stays mostly in place, squared directly ahead of beastly eyes and unholy temper. The wiry burglar hardly breathes, underlying energy restrained to some twitchy resettling of muscle knotted down the length of his raised arm. Daring him to take another step forward. Or to offer to call a shelter again.

Welcome to Greenwich, Joe!

Joseph's breathing hitches when the gun comes up, hands raising a little more. He doesn't dare close his eyes, as tempting as it would be, because there are too many important nuance to pick up. The sudden tension that makes the gun shake, the anger. He doesn't move. For a moment, he can't talk, just blinks stupidly at the invader who is mostly materialising in front of him as darkness, gun metal, and blazing eyes.

And there's a man in there somewhere. That's the important thing. The fear is obvious, and beneath that is sympathy. Of course, it would take look beyond bones to pick it up, but it's also present in his voice. "Okay," he says, hands turning a little, palms angling towards the ceiling. "No shelters. Sure, you can stay here." Joseph is so fired, and this he reflects on for half a second, in a laughingly distant corner of his mind. Good job, there. "But— please." His voice wavers on that last word. "We're in a house of God. Can you— lower you're weapon, I'm not— gonna call no one or… hurt you."

Fresh sweat beads into the dank smell of the rain still sheeting down in waves on the other side of the door, and slowly, gradually, Deckard's ribs sink around a spent breath.


It takes him a few seconds to discern whether or not he wants to trust, lambent eyes fading dull long enough to read over Joseph's unfamiliar face. Eventually, a jerky movement of his thumb lifts it back over the hammer, draws back, and tips it the rest of the way forward again. "Okay," he echoes on a private delay, eyes sketching aside again over the unlit interior before they blaze back to life. He breathes again. The gun tilts up, then down, not put away just yet, but not pointing itself at Joseph anymore either. "Okay."

"Okay," Joseph repeats. Smiles, frozenly, but not without honesty. He's certainly relieved now, and that warrants a smile, even if it doesn't necessarily mean it's the kind to communicate he's happy to see the man. Southern hospitality, and all that. He nods once, hands lower. "Great."

Smoothing his hand down the front of his shirt, slightly rumpled from the day and the fact he was relaxing, up in his office, before the long and wet journey home, Joseph visibly relaxes, or forces himself to. "This must have come as a surprise to you," he says, tone light if a little jittery. "We haven't been open to the— well we're not open, yet, but— " He speaks, and his feet carry him a few bold steps forward before something in him reminds him that sudden movements may not be an awesome idea, and he pauses. Swallows. The sound of the way is a din that filters through the slightly open door, the shimmering silver sheets of water visible as he glances to it, and points. "Can I shut that?"

The carpet nearest Deckard squelches wetly underfoot when he takes a step back, cold water already soaked deep through the stuff. The air nearest him stinks. Like garbage and metal and whiskey and a guy who probably really needed a shower before it started raining, and still kind of does. In direct contradiction to his snap of a few seconds ago, he doesn't seize up at Joseph's advance.

He just nods to the question of the open door and sort of ignores the rest, sweeping it out with the cold air as unnecessary clutter. In fact, after a little thought, he glances suspiciously after the other man's shoulder, checking again for weapons he already knows aren't there. Hospitable people are weird.

They also babble after a gun stops being pointed at them. Joseph does manage to shut up, though, gives a twitch of a more nervous smile as he sweeps on by the other man, pushes the heavy door closed, muffling the sound of rain and more distant traffic once more. There is a lot about this that isn't smart, and this fizzles through synapses as he twists the lock to close again against— ha, intruders. But this is also charity.

And no one ever said charity was easy. "There's tea," he says, turning his back on the closed door, a hand up to scratch the back of his neck. "And coffee. If you want it." It's Sunday tomorrow, but no prayer service, thank goodness, not yet. That would have been awkward. "What's your name?"

"Mike," is…not his name. But it's close enough, these days. Often enough, at least. A breath steeped enough to qualify as a sigh shudders out into a subdued shiver, and with one last look sideways and up through the ceiling, the light in his eyes smothers itself out. Pale exhaustion takes its place, red-rimmed and spidered through with winding blood vessels.

"Tea's fine." Guy's a priest. A pastor. Something. Who's he going to tell if he drinks tea? And why does he care who he tells? Or if he tells? Still reluctant to tuck the gun away and out of sight, he does it anyway, overcoat clinging to the suit that clings to him in turn.

"Joseph, right?"

The gun is gone. The eyes are normal. This helps, it seems, Joseph's heart rate beginning to wind down to something more normal. He expels a sigh through mouth and nose as the weapon disappears, nods a little, attention snatched back when the other man utters his name in a question. "Yes? Yes— Joseph," he confirms. "It's nice to meet you, Mike." That comes out a little stilted. A white lie. The good kind, he hopes. He's meant to be welcoming.

It also occurs to him he's not going to call the police. He really is going to make tea. Joseph's smile becomes a little kinder, a little less panicked and horrible with fear, a hand up to rub his jaw before he's moving again, trying not to glance at where Mike has tracked in water and dirt onto freshly cleaned carpets— down a stair, onto wooden floor, leading the way. Kitchen. Boiling water. English Breakfast. More importantly, warmth. It's cold out there.

"There isn't much but there's tea." No blankets, no change of clothing, not yet. Sometime soon, if all goes well, but he suspects a roof over head is meant to suffice anyway. "And some good readin' material."

Deckard follows, the very worst kind of lamb. The one that has a tendency to show up when there's free food or a funeral, and rarely otherwise. It's in his face — in the way he looks at things, takes in the decor with ill-disguised contempt, lags behind to try to fall back out of easy conversational distance. He's here because the place has a roof. He's staying because…well. The place has a roof. And tea that will presumably be hot, so. Bonus.

Aware of the fact that Joseph is smiling (and has been smiling), he avoids eye contact, 'nice to meet you' met with an incoherent muffle of sound that doesn't make it to wordhood.

He is indeed tracking in a trail of brackish water meanwhile. It's harder to see on the wood flooring, if easier to hear until he starts shrugging his way out of the sagging weight of his overcoat. "I've read it."

His hand finds a light switch, floods the place with brighter light that carelessly beats back ominous shadows. There's no mood lighting when it comes to bright, electric light bulbs, only exposure and a certain kind of washed outness that comes with revealing that much detail. Hot water is already going, having taken a mug up not so long ago for himself, and Joseph flicks the switch to bring it to proper boil.

Not about to take the man's coat, either, Joseph keeps his distance. For his own comfort, the smell isn't pleasant, but a transaction of tea, shelter, and hopefully words doesn't need much. "Glad to hear that," he hears himself say as he opens a small cupboard, extracts a chipped but flawlessly cleaned mug. Donations, contributions, all of which he spent the day sorting out and finding places for. There's a bare cleanliness to this place that speaks of renewal and hard work and not a lot of money.

He doesn't get a drink for himself, drops a teabag into the mug, finds a spoon and the taped-sealed back of sugar. "I'm hoping this place can provide more than just shelter for a night pretty soon," Joseph says. Conversational, and it doesn't sound forced. There's the gentle clink of porcelain against metal and the plastic of the kitchen counter, his back to Deckard as he works. "We're still finding our feet."

Some uncomfortable, unappreciative blinking later, Deckard decides the room is sufficiently lit to support the flicking of his own switch. Color bleeds into a less annoying negative, Joseph's teeth and the back of his head decidedly more tolerable when laid open to the bare bone. His coat weighs invisible in his hands, but he's familiar enough with the sensation to sling the collar up over the corner of the kitchen door without too much difficulty.

Back in the world of the electric light bulb, he looks like he belongs in a shelter. Where the overcoat might have tricked the eye into attributing to him a certain sturdy presence, the sodden suit is more honest in its close cling. He's bony and pale, probably soon to be sick from the cold, dark-stained hair scruffed up off his skull with a rough brush of one hand. Rather than allow himself to be drawn in towards the warm stove, he loiters hangdog near his coat and the door and thinks way too hard about normal-sounding things to say in the face of casual conversation.

"It was fine the way it was." When no one lived here except a few rats, none of which were exceptionally interested in smiling at him. Face long, he frowns hard at Joe for a few seconds more, then sets to unbuttoning the dress shirt under his suit jacket.

"It was empty the way it was," Joseph corrects, that smile in his voice even if it's now dimmed, with no one to see it. Keeps his back to the haggard intruder-turned-guest in the room as he reaches out to take the electric kettle out of its seat, pour in the water with the rhythmic sound of a spoon grazing the inside of the teacup.

Empty, which is fine for Deckard, not so for Joseph - so basically, a truthful compromise. He doesn't ask if Deckard wants any sugar, just spoons a small helping in as comes natural, stirs it into the darkening liquid. "Sorry to disappoint, though." Tap, tap, and the spoon clatters a little when he discards it into the sink, as with the tea bag, and he turns back— and can't help but look back up and down at the other man, startled concern showing honestly on expressive features.

Two types of people. Those who need help and ask for it, even when everything about them says nothing of the kind. Then there's those who cry out for it, in Joseph's eyes, with every inch of them, and say nothing at all. Both are deserving. His gaze lowers to look down at the hot beverage in his hand, forces a mild smile back into place as he offers it. "Either way, welcome to— what will be— the Guiding Light."

"Exactly." It was empty. No one to call the cops or lock the doors or fill the pews with people. Christ. Blink and they'll fill the scar at the center of Midtown with water and call it a goddamn public swimming pool.

These thoughts and others shade a return stare that's as colorless as it is bristling with distrust and dislike. The way Joseph's face turns and stays turned. The way it lingers. Pity practically leaks out of the guy's bones and it's all Deckard can do not to bare his teeth at him. The unfocused scrape of his glare might be enough to get the message across without benefit of further theatrics. Either way, he reaches to take the offered tea, steam that he can't see blown automatically off the top on the mug's way up for a sip. It doesn't quite get there before it dips low enough to allow for a grudging and croaky, "Thanks."

The, "you're welcome," comes quickly and moderately subdued, a little close-mouthed as much as it's sincere. Gaze darts quickly over Deckard's face and really, all the glaring paints Joseph's picture of this Mike guy with more accuracy, but he's swift to move away again, clean up properly.

Two points of contrast - where Deckard's shoes are scuffed to hell and maybe stolen if not looted, Joseph's are cheap and polished about as thoroughly as the dishes are cleaned. Egg-shell blue shirt is tucked into a dark pair of jeans that somehow remain formal, the buttons of said shirt done up almost to the throat but the sleeves rolled up his forearms. He's thoughtfully quiet as he puts things away, letting Deckard have a reprieve from a pitying studious gaze.

Light continues to glare down, showing colours the other man chooses not to see, and good thing too - there's a sort of mustard scheme going, including the plastic of the solitary table, the metal structure of chairs coming up white in Deckard's vision. "You can take a seat if you want," Joseph adds.

If he wants. Uncertain on that point and still avoidant in the wake of Joseph's 'you're welcome,' Deckard looks over the chairs, checking for…something. Booby traps, maybe. Paranoia regains strength at irregular intervals, rhyme and reason having little to contribute to a situation he hasn't managed to get himself into before.

His suit is grey. No one specific shade, but a patchy collection of many — all soaked darker than the norm by the rain outside. Strips of lighter ash are dusted in around the seams and across the back in irregular strips, with a dusting of reddish brown up one sleeve that could be rust staining. Somehow. The dress shirt beneath it is unbuttoned and untucked, open over an undershirt that's as drab and damp as the rest of him. As crappy as it all looks, it all seems to fit, which would suggest that most of it actually belongs to him if not for the fact that he just got caught breaking into an empty church and pointing a gun at the single occupant.

He takes a seat. He reaches to scoot the far chair out, he sits, he scoots the far chair in. The tea is hot and the sallow skin on bare hands and face is beginning to dry, making slow progress in the direction of improvement, but progress all the same.

It's a night of firsts for both of them. And everything Joseph wants to say are along the same vein that had a gun pointed towards his brain not moments ago, and despite the weapon being a few feet from where Deckard has planted himself, it doesn't seem like a good road to go down. All the same. He pulls out a chair, skittery legs scraping against lino, and the pastor sits himself down, arms folding on the table.

"Did you like it?"

A half-smile, a head shake as if to preemptively dismiss the notion that he's talking about tea, because, well. It's milkless English Breakfast, designed to warm if not please. "You said you read it." A shrug, tone cautiously curious as he links his hands together casually on the table. "We talkin' cover to cover?"

"I skimmed the chapters about whales." Deckard doesn't smile back. A cynical tug at the corner of his mouth is about as close as he's likely to get, and even with eye contact rendered physically impossible by his cheating, he looks down and away. Bracing himself for the inevitability of this line of conversation. If he'd gone in any other direction…

Buuut he didn't. He came here. Now liquid warmth is coating its welcome way through his innards, and there's no wind. Just a working heater, Joseph, and the threat of religious debate.

"I believe there is an all-knowing God." Maybe he can head him off, somehow. Between long swallows of tea that tastes at least a thousand times better than he knows it should. The blanched, smoky grey of his gaze ticks back over onto current company, too unnaturally pale to have any hope of not being entirely creepy, and he lifts a brow. "I also believe that's the only thing we're going to agree on, so why don't we just skip ahead to the end, where you shake your head and promise to pray for me and I roll my eyes."

On a scale of threats from one to ten, religious debate ranks at maybe two whereas a loaded, pointblank gun is pushing the higher echelons. Still, Joseph probably has more willpower behind the execution of his than Deckard did with his finger curled about the trigger - or he hopes - and probably a better line of fire. As much as the chairs at the table aren't in any way a trap, the invitation to sit and a full mug of tea has its own trapping qualities.

Or. Or Joseph doesn't see it that way. His smile widens a little at that last comment, a little rueful but not surprised at the show of cynicism. His gaze is still uncertain whenever he meets Deckard's eerier one. "That's fair. I will, by the way," he feels obliged to add. Honesty is the best policy. "No, I wanted to know if you've read the gospel of Luke."

Amusement manages to breaks through the uncertainty in his eyes, but that's mainly because Joseph's stopped attempting, again, to level his gaze on Deckard's. Studying, instead, his hands, where a wedding band glints in the bright light on the appropriate finger. "Might see where'm comin' from if you did."

His chipped mug balanced and weighed in its tenuous tip from paired fingers curled through the handle, Deckard notes that it is almost empty. This means that there is space inside, which means he should either see about getting more tea, or…reach his free hand under the lapel of his wet jacket to retrieve a flask. It's not very big, cheaply made and likely freshly acquired, but there aren't any holes in it and the cap screws on securely.

The same cap that he is currently unscrewing so that he can tip the snubbed opening over into his mug. Warm amber spills forth in an irregular rush, having to combat air for space at first. One finger. Two. Then he tips the flask back, closes it up, and tucks it away. All without a word, though the message is clear enough. If Joseph is going to insist on going there, then he's going to need a higher blood alcohol level than the one he's currently sporting.

Well that's new. Joseph goes quiet at first with confusion when Deckard reaches into his jacket, then with disbelief whenever whatever's inside the revealed flask is emptied into the cup. He opens his mouth to speak, a protest or an offer for more tea or continuing whatever it was he was saying lined up and ready, before he simply shuts it again with a slight click of his teeth.

Point taken. Still, it's a minor set back, and he clears his throat, almost defiantly. "It had some good messages. Ones about charity and— yes— going out and spreadin' the word. Talked about the downtrodden, the hopeless being given some spiritual guidance." His eyebrows lift as he adds, "Granted, the ones in the Bible were a little more receptive. Point is, you can bother this place all you like, and maybe you won't prefer it bein' empty. Coupla nights' shelter can only do so much."

"Messages in a book aren't going to help me. No matter how warm and fuzzy they sound in theory." A bitter swallow of his whiskey/tea concoction later, he begins the process of peeling off his suit jacket to let it fall limply over the back of his chair. The more air that gets to everything, the better. Somehow it seems unlikely that the morning is going to be any warmer, even if it's less wet.

The off-white of his dress shirt is second-hand, no doubt. It's too short in the arms, unbuttoned cuffs open over his wrists. The shoulder holster looped stiff around both arms is black nylon — plastic buckles and straps somewhat less slick than the leather he typically favors. Gets the job done, though, the butt of his revolver poking bluntly out at Joseph across the table.

"If you really had the best interest of your future congregation in mind, you would call the cops next time I showed up. I mean, it's a win-win really, 'cause…none of them would get hurt and I would go to prison. Plenty of time to read in there."

The gun is acknowledged with only a glance and his shoulders becoming still with residual tension, but only that. You get used to New York City every second! Joseph's head tips to the side a little in silent disagreement about what messages in a book can't do for Deckard, but the protest never makes it to words. Besides, a good point is being made, and he shrugs beneath his pale blue shirt. The same thing crossed his mind about twenty-fold from around the time he heard the squeak of door hinges through to making tea for the stranger.

Then he looked again. Joseph's chair scrapes against linoleum again, away from the table this time, but he doesn't yet stand up. "But I don't think you're intending to hurt any of my future congregation. You just wanted a place to stay. Sleep. You said it yourself and I can't fault a man for that. And if that's all you need from me, then…" An open handed gesture towards Deckard, a slight smile. "I'll pray for you. Go on, roll your eyes."

Deckard drinks instead, swallowing down a shot that singes down after homey tea with its own special brand of blasting heat. The remaining contents are offered out to Joseph, who seems to be making a move towards leaving. Can't have that! Not if he expects to get more than an hour's rest before the po-po come a knocking.

Jaw set along this line of consideration, he's back to eyeing Joseph more directly across the extended offer of the mug, eyes having taken on a more natural coloration in their chilly study of the pastor. "If I'm spending the night here, so are you." Blandly to the point, he tips the mug a little, reminding of its presence if it hasn't already been taken.

Mild surprise writes itself across Joseph's face, as if for one flattering moment he imagines his company enjoyed, before the practical reasoning registers. Not for the first time, it occurs to him that he may not have entirely thought this through, looking from now normal-blue eyes down towards the offered cup, then back up again. "Is this a hostage situation?" he asks, droll. All the same, he shifts his chair back into place.

Then, realising the offer extended to him. Joseph shakes his head in a swift motion, arms settling back onto the table and making no move to take the cup. "No, thanks, I don't drink." Head tilts a little and adds, "Pastors aren't meant to."

"At all?" Equally mild surprise sketches out across Deckard's forehead in return, as if he finds the idea appalling. No drinking? Ever? Not too sad to have the extra left over for himself, he doesn't press the issue further than a look of open-mouthed disbelief. The mug is brought back up before him, sipped, and set down again with excessive care, having managed to put off the question of hostage status for all of one minute.

"It's a situation of self-preservation. I want the phone out of your office, too." On one hand it might be weird he knows there's one in there. On the other — most offices have phones, and most churches have offices. He certainly doesn't seem to think it's an odd request to make. "You can stay in there with the door closed if you want. I don't care."

"Not in my church." A slight bodily shift of discomfort under the look of open surprise he's getting, and he just sort of gives a tight smile and a shrug. Watches patiently as Deckard downs the mouthful of spiked tea— and then Joe's eyebrows go up when he's answered rather seriously.

A forced huff of laughter, hands bracing against the edge of the table. "I'm not gonna call the police," he says, as earnestly as his tone will permit him, although a little bit of incredulousness has leaked in. "I— I mean, you're right, I shouldn't leave you here— " So, so fired. "— but you can trust me, Mike." That would probably work better if Mike was actually this man's name, but the lie's been accepted by the pastor as easily as anything. "I still think you'd be comfier somewhere— a little less bare, but— "

"I'm sure. All the same, It'd be cruel of me to leave you with the temptation. Joseph." Lacking the energy and patience necessary to bother masking cynical condescension, Deckard finishes the last of his drink and scrapes his chair back to stand. The mug is hooked up after him and dragged over to the sink. There, backwash is slung down the drain and a fresh flow of water kicked out the faucet to rinse the interior.

Still pretty saturated through his clothing, he's left the seat of his chair damp, but he's ceased dripping. At the gentle return of prodding in the direction of 'you might be better off somewhere else,' he tilts his head, one eye turned back over his shoulder to give the younger man a measuring look. To see if he really, really wants to back step that far.

Joseph twists in his seat so as to visually track Deckard's walk over to the sink, brows knitted together both at Deckard's tone and the contents of his words, allowing that look to be communicated. Making Joseph raise a surrendering hand and give a sigh. Door mat. That is what he's being, and it's a little painful, in a niggling way. But to be fair, the other man is armed, and Joseph is taking a higher road. This sentiment is one he can cling to, sliding out of his chair, moves to refill the kettle with a "may I?" to get passed Deckard.

"Fine. If it'll make you feel better. You're not gonna steal it, are ya?" There's a joke in there, but a little too bitter to be as patient sounding as he has been. Someone else is calling the shots, now. "Not that I'm sure you'd do anything so stupid like making it obvious someone was here. Forcin' me to tell. More tea?"

The rinsed mug is left in the sink and Deckard steps back to allow Joseph passage, accommodating. "No." No, he's not going to steal the phone, and no, he's not going to do anything stupider than he already has, and no: he doesn't want more tea. "I just want some sleep. A few hours. I'll lie down outside the door. You can bang on it to wake me up before anyone else gets here, if that's what you're worried about."

It's not a very complicated or comfortable arrangement, but with the exception of Joseph's addition into the equation, not that different from what he was expecting anyway. Wet hands flicked carelessly off at the floor, he curls a hand up over his brow, adding futile pressure to the increasingly permanent headache stored there.

"Good call." As to what he's worried about. Joseph glances at Deckard, not foolish enough to thank him for such a courtesy, but there's a hint of gratitude there all the same. The kettle is set back down into place, but Deckard's refusal has him not flicking it on, almost mimicking the other man as he brings his hand up to rub the bridge of his nose at his own only just formed headache.

Then, he turns, braces a hand against the kitchen counter's edge and Deckard gets a look. One that communicates that the pastor's found himself a piece of backbone and isn't afraid to use it. Ish. The gun in the harness is still staring at him. "Build a man a fire and he's warm for a night. Show a man how to light one for himself and he's warm for the rest of his life. Breakin' into places for a few hours of sleep ain't gonna do nothing for you in the long run."

He takes his weight off the counter, shrugs at the older man as he makes for out of the kitchen. "Just saying."

"Unless it's raining. Then trying to build a fire is just impractical." The push of a backbone is countered with a yield in the wrong direction. Under conditions wherein he looks and feels less like a wet cat, the potential for religious discussion with an honest-to-God friendly, southern-accent pastor would be tempting. Right now, while he watches Joseph move for the door ahead of him, the gaunt countenance of Flint Deckard is broadcasting a certain amount of regret for not having just shot him straight off.

"There are other places. Ones without pastors and the best of intentions and the good word. Ones where I can sleep for more than a few hours. If it wasn't for your fucking dog and pony show, this would be one of them." With the conversation tipping ever so slightly back towards the less sane end of the spectrum, walking in front of him might not be the most comfortable position to be in. "If you don't think I'll cut your tongue out of your jaw to get some peace and quiet then you haven't been paying close enough attention."

At the words being flung towards his back, Joseph is inclined to stop, to turn at the door and look back at Deckard with at first a troubled expression, but one that smooths into something more neutral. Almost as tensely as he'd stood at the bottom of the stairwell with his hand wrapping rigid around the railing, he looks back at Deckard unblinkingly, gaze only dropping a fraction as those last words hit home.

His fingers rap a little against the door frame as if taking this into consideration, before giving Deckard a jerky nod. "Noted." Thank you very much. He's offended, that much is obvious, but he's also attempting to contain it. Whether because he's afraid for his life (or his tongue, as seems to be the way to handle well-intentioned Baptists amongst the hip crowd), or because he's a good Christian man, that can be inferred. Either way, Joseph risks turning his back on Deckard, and heads for upstairs, running a hand through dark hair.

Bristle bristle. Deckard stops when Joseph does, tension mirrored in wiry, watchful kind. He's about as neutral as a starved and cornered coyote, plenty aware of the fact that the only door out is currently being blocked by a man about his size who he might have just gone too far with. In the face of actual potential physical conflict, he freezes up a little, right hand twitching up after the gun almost as an afterthought.


Okay. A dry swallow pulls at his stubble-bristled throat, breathing resumed at the sight of the pastor's turned back. The gun is tugged quietly out of its holster anyway. Quite probably to make sure the exchange of the phone and sleeping arrangements go more smoothly than whatever this thing is that just happened.

The journey up is predictably silent, Joseph trying not to think too much, just focusing on the length of his shadow as he makes his way upstairs, hand drifting along the railing as he goes. The light is still on, and his tea is now completely cold in the plain mug on his desk. Door already opened, he doesn't bother to close it immediately, letting Deckard see, should he care to, the office Joseph's been assigned. It's not too small, all things considered - suitable for a counselor rather than a desk jockey, with a second-hand couch pushed against the wall, a coffee table, a desk, a comfortable office chair. He's already laid out some personal effects. A few bits and pieces of stationary. A couple of books, one of which is, indeed, a Bible, with reference notes of paper in between the pages.

Also a photo frame of a woman with blonde hair, smiling and holding up a hand to shield her eyes from the sun within the place the photo was taken. Presumably the female that has a matching ring on her finger, but not someone he's asking to call to let her know he's not coming home tonight. Not a word is said as he disconnects the white plastic phone and it's tangled wire, jaw clenched a little as he moves to hold it out for Deckard.

The creeping, silent presence of Deckard at aft is notable mostly for its stubborn lack of apology. Revolver pointed down at the floor, he steps in sideways after Joseph to take in books, photograph and couch. He doesn't inquire about the second, or ask if he can sleep on the last. Rather, he leans in to take the extended phone, coils it in under his left arm, and performs one last thorough sweep of the office space. Knives, guns, cell phones — whatever. Anything that might be used to out or kill him is sought with eyes that simultaneously see too much and not enough.

Then he's backing up again, avoiding Joseph's gaze as he goes, wet shirt, phone, gun, and eyes that look approximately as hellish as he feels.

"There you go," Joseph says, almost too quietly for the words to matter, as Deckard takes the phone and takes his time backing out of the office. It's a little warmer than the rest of the church and he does have a couch. If he's waiting for an apology, he doesn't seem to have his heart set on it, waiting for the other man to back up a sufficient amount before he approaches the door to, indeed, close it and lock himself in. It creaks a little as it begins to shut a few inches, pauses.

Joseph takes a breath, glancing at Deckard warily, and adds gently, far more subdued than he'd been downstairs, "'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall'…" He stops, glances at the gun, shrugs a shoulder, leaving him with a referential footnote instead of the whole proverb. "Matthew, 7:7. It didn't have to go this way. Have a good evening."

The return of religion to the mix in gentle context is enough to earn a frigid kind of warning hatred through the last lambent look Deckard is willing to exchange through the door. Giving and hospitality and forgiveness and well-meaning and love. Put through the wood chipper of his warped perception, it's all belched out as the same insubstantial, choking dust.

Outside the door, he takes a knee, gun holstered so that he can have that hand free as a third support on his way down to his opposite side. His right arm folds itself under his head. The left drags the phone in against his chest and holds it there. Just in case.

The door is quick to shut soon after it's clear he's getting no reply, which is better than a bullet to the face and so Joseph isn't slow to put a barrier between him and the other man. Rather than reach out to whatever counts as a heart for Deckard, the tough little muscle that never bleeds, it was a point to be made. Doubtful it made impact. Perhaps Joseph should have delivered a right hook. Effective, but would have ended in pain for him and besides, it's not very articulate. His forehead rests against the closed door for a moment. Three, two, one, and Deckard will hear the click of a lock.

Joseph lets out a quiet, breathy chuckle, sort of shrugs at the empty room, and moves towards the couch to catch a few hours for himself. Be generous and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped. Or, rather, be a hostage and people will help themselves. Go figure.

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