The Most Excellent Way


abby_icon.gif f_april_icon.gif bebe_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif kinney_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif raquelle_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Most Excellent Way
Synopsis …is hard to find, but a group of New Yorkers flock to the Guiding Light to find theirs, while Joseph preaches about the gifts of Evolved.
Date April 19, 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 letting, 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.

For a place that has such silence for so long during the day, and during the evenings too, the restless murmur of feet against carpet and scuffed wooden floor, the shuffling of clothing and handbags, the occasional beep as people think to switch off their cellphones, and of course, conversation, echoes through the worship hall easily. Greeters at the door, a scattering of friends and family talking jovially as people congregate and move to sit down. People are dressed well and yet there is an easy air of friendliness, hands taken, smiles exchanged.

It's warm in here, as opposed to the icy sunshine of a Spring midday outside. Less formal, also, in feel and atmosphere than many churches in the world, despite the fact Joseph is dressed in a sharp suit and tie, standing behind the podium with his head bowed so he might organise himself. Leaflets of paper shifted in front of him, a Bible laid open. Every now and then, he glances up to see what faces he might recognise, affording a smile towards Abigail who has taken her familiar seat near the front.

The clock crawls on closer to noon, the doors remaining open for presumably anyone.

Cambria family, all show up honestly…all three of 'em because Church is important and the soft babyish lisp that is his youngest baby girl's voice, Diana, precedes their entrance through the open doors asking questions. "Daddy…is this where god lives? Daddy, is Jeeeze here too? Daddy where do they slip (sleep)?" And so on. Raquelle enters dressed 'simply' for once, a very nice black (duh) suit with the jacket left unbuttoned and a soft grey mock turtleneck of a top, and a black fedora perched at an angle, dark shades hiding his eyes. You can't see his eyes but you can assume he's probably not without makeup today.

In his arms is a small little girl with blonde ringlets pulled into pigtails and she has on a pink dress under her white jacket/coat thingie and following beside him a caramel colored girl of about 8, brunette locks brushed until they shine and flip up at the edges because her dark red headband matches her red dress. Yay, church day…or something. "Mmhm, shhh…" Then…"Daddy! Daddy! - Does god like apple jacks for breakfast on Sunday?" - … Raquelle has no idea, he answers simply by coughing and looking down to his oldest. "BJ…" She is still sulking. SIGH, Fatherhood. At least the entire little family looks good, fashionable clothing, banging hair, manicures…etc.

Sonny doesn't really want to be here. The Bianco family pays lip service to the church. His parents still go regularly for social reasons and the mayor's son has to go along at Easter and Christmas and all that, but never since it became his choice has he voluntarily set foot inside a house of worship.

But yet here he is, in the guise of Connor Kinney. He wears neat slacks, a collared shirt and a suit jacket. His hair is neatly combed and his cheeks free of stubble. All shiny and church goey. But there's a bit of a dubious look he can't quite shake. He glances to Teo, then draws in a slow breath. "Well. Where should we sit?"

Wearing a dark grey suit and an improperly done tie, Magnes walks in wearing black imitation-leather shoes, carrying a black paperback bible. He sits in one of the pews near the middle of the church, still not completely comfortable as he settles into everything. He smiles to a few people though, not spotting Abby, he just keeps his attention on Joseph.

April was never a churchgoer. Not in her youth, not in her first time around through this year, not even after her life took a very rapid trip in a handbasket… but something about the church building, the gathering audience trickling one by one through the doors, catches her attention in a way very little on this rambling traversion of the city has. She's a long ways from Morningside now, but still has the mirrored sunglasses, the worn denim coat and black jeans. Her steps slow, finally stop, and the dark-haired woman hesitates.

Then April joins the people filing in, her gaze sweeping the interior of the unfamiliar chapel, noting the nooks and crannies, the doors, the assembled audience. She can't quite bring herself to sit down, but separates herself from the line upon crossing the threshold, finding an out-of-the-way place where she can stand without being in everyone's view and observe. The woman, even with her sunglasses on, pretty obviously doesn't have the demeanor of a heckler here to harass the sermonizer; she looks, most of all, like someone who has lost her way and hopes she might find it again.

Teodoro looks stiff and tired because he is. Babysitting bitchy kittens and terrorism are equally arduous tasks that lend themselves better to uncomfortably cold floors and sulking in the dark than to easy rest. He's as good at his Sunday finest as you'd expect from a long-time Catholic boy, even if he's apparently somewhat denominationally confused this particular morning. "In the back." He answers first, remembers to smile afterward.

It does mean a lot to him that Sonny agreed to come with. Teo can tell when somebody does not really want to come to church. 'Defensive' is a good word for it. Gratitude is imparted with a squeeze on the doctor's shoulder, automatic paranoia quelled in the absence of firearms, and Teo slides his path neatly into one of the hindmost pews.

Some people dress up for church. Other people don't. One woman with unnaturally styled white hair would be among the group who didn't dress up at all. Some people may have noticed a gust of wind near the main doors, that solidified into a person filing through the line with everyone else. That's usually how Daphne moves when she doesn't need to go at a normal speed. A blur of white and blue. The colors of her hair and her clothes, which happen to be pants, rather than the tradition church skirt, and clothes people would wear to very casual things. Like the movie theater.

Once she gets inside, she moves to a place near the aisle (quick exit!) and settles down onto the pew. And fidgets. Practically bouncing in her seat. Like a kid who had way too much caffiene before being forced to sit down.

It's noon. The sun's at its zenith, beaming down upon the earth and gleaming off every white or metallic surface it touches, granting warmth and life to soil that had for months known only the touch of winter until recently. It's giving Richard Cardinal an absolutely splitting headache, which is why his head's down, the darkest pair of sunglasses he could find shielding his eyes from view — and he's keeping his gaze down to begin with. He's dressed nicely, at least, a black suit, black shirt underneath, all silk or faux-silk from the looks of it. No tie, but it's certainly passable for Sunday best.

The man pauses just on the threshold of the church, uncertain perhaps, before stepping over the line and joining others within. He's not Baptist. He's a lapsed Catholic, truth be told, but no lightning struck him as he stepped inside. Sister Mary-Catherine was lying about that, it turns out, like so many other things she said. Still, these days, a man can never really tell. Rather than heading down the pews, he moves along the back wall towards a quiet corner, only to find it occupied by someone already. After an awkward moment, he chooses a spot just a person-length down the wall from April, a little more in the open that her but not entirely obvious at least. An uncomfortable expression's closed off as he looks over the church, squinting behind his shades.

Coming in long enough after the few faces that might know her to have already sat down, Huruma's entrance is first cued by her figure being at least inches over anyone else nearby; she does not linger in the doorway, nor take stock of the room ahead. Her senses are up, and the emotions number many, but perhaps that is what she has been aiming to feel. A crowd. A sea of little whispers to her brain.

Underneath of a black, buttoned blazer, Huruma wears a taut red dress that comes just above her knees. Certainly much too tight around her lower half for what might be perfectly fine in a House of God, but the jacket seems to offset some of the more illicit visions by putting up a wall of seriousness and lightly padded shoulders. The woman's walk is bold, and she makes her way straight up the center of the pews, only to come to a stop near the front, where she immediately sidles into a place just one extra pew behind Abigail.

Perhaps there are more people today than usual. He'd made it clear not so long ago about what topic he'd been addressing and would it be prideful to think that maybe that has something to do with it? Or perhaps, just like any congregation, it's simply growing. Joseph picks up a pair of frameless glasses and puts them on, drawing back the sleeve of his jacket to inspect the time on his brown leather strapped watch. Off to the side, the senior pastor, an older black man in a gun metal grey suit and white dress shirt, watches on with vague interest, as if this were an experiment.

It kind of is. Joseph looks up from what he's doing to inspect those that have arrived, now that people have taken their seats, faces turned forward. Some are recognisable, Magnes gaining an amused smile from the pastor, Raquelle also with his daughters, and Huruma's approach getting a slight double-take before his gaze darts quickly away.

Hokay. Everyone else is merely noted, nodded to if they happen to make eye contact, before his hand moves to adjust the small microphone attached at the podium. With a jerk, he frees it, fidgets with the dial until there's a slight squeak from the speakers.

This technological whine serves as a decent heralding for attention as any. "Good morning, everyone," he says, over the fading hum of settling. "Thank you all for coming on this— relatively nice New York day." Southern uncertainty as to the weather, it's kind of overcast and all. "It amazes me how we've grown since we started here, and I find myself looking at new faces every service, those who have walked God's path for a long time and those just findin' it. I'd like to start with a prayer, if y'all could stand up so we might pray together."

Kinney casts his eyes down to the bibles and hymnals tucked in to the slots at the backs of the pews in front of him. He slides into a spot near the back and runs fingers through his hair. A fluid motion produces his cell phone which he switches to silent mode, then pockets it again and glances to Teo.

"You feeling all right? I'll call Melanie in the morning and see what she says about the cats." Dr. Melanie Horton, a veterinary friend.

He quiets down once Joseph begins. Attentive gaze swivels forward, though the prospect of uttering a prayer clearly unsettles the doc. In his mind, hardcore religion and medical science don't mix, even though there are plenty of doctors out there who also have faith. He's just not one of them.

Up Abigail stands at the request, knowing the traditions that come with service. When to stand, when to sit, which book to get. Somehow she also knows that Huruma is sitting behind her, though she wouldn't have minded if the dark skinned woman had opted to sit beside her. As it stands, little old blue rinsed haired McCarthy was beside Abigail. Sunday best, the blonde lowers her head after helping the older woman to her feet, hands clasped at her waist in front of her.

Magnes stands, just holding his bible; other people are holding books too. He keeps watching people so he can take cues on what to do. He noticed what looked like Huruma go past before he stood, but didn't want anyone to think he was staring at women or something. Then he simply waits for everyone to start praying.

Apparently she's not the only one who doesn't fit in here. April looks sidelong as there is suddenly company on her wall — but the face around the sunglasses isn't a familiar one, and while the woman can't be said to relax, she doesn't do more than stand there stiffly. Behind the sunglasses, it's hard to tell if April makes eye contact with the speaker — and she's already standing, so she just remains that way.

Somewhere in amoungst the packed pews of old pros on God's path and those fumbling a bit blindly toward the road paved with gold is the small but perhaps vaguely familiar face of a plain jane brown-eyed girl who has managed to insinuate herself between the door and a woman sporting her literal Sunday best. She remains quiet, reverent, and unobtrusive; given that there aren't many folks who might be so inclined to crane their heads all the way around in the opposite direction of the preacher while he stands at the pulpit, she also figures she's safe from any undue attention — at least for as long as the Word is apt to flow. Bebe finds her feet along with everyone else and stands in preparation for prayers.

A return glance is slanted towards the woman a bit down the wall, and Cardinal dips his chin in a slight nod of acknowledgement — a smile faint, sardonic on his lips — before turning his attention back to the man behind the podium, shifting a bit to at least unfold his arms from his chest. It's a little bit of a concession to the formality of the occasion, at least.

No prayer book, but Daphne does stand with everyone else. She's rather petite, easily concealed by taller people in front of her, but those directly behind her will see that she's practically bouncing on her toes, as if she wants to do something else. It's tough staying in one place for someone like her, but she's going to do her best. If only to see what this pastor has to say about Evolved and God. No bible held in hand for her, though she glances at someone down the aisle with one, tilting her head for a second as if considering it. No, not worth it.

Yarp. Now Teo is getting up because the nice pastor told him to. His phone was long since switched off; he knows how these go, if not exactly, then with enough pertinent experience massed behind him to act in a somewhat more timely fashion. "Thanks," he murmurs back. "'M fine." Or close enough that the Sicilian isn't exactly lying in the House of God when he says so, anyway.

The lassitude of stress is the pull of distraction. Drags Teodoro's line of sight down from Joseph's figure on the podium, sweeps the back of Abby's head and the front of countless other faces, finds a figment of recognition here or there, before his attention drops to the floor with the neat solemnity of a stone. His own center of gravity sits low enough, these days, that it takes somewhat more doing to unsettle him than there is.

Huruma sends Pastor Joe a flickering white smile as she does sit, and moments later as he begins his introduction she alternates between examining him and the pulpit itself. As he goes on to ask for a standing prayer, the woman with the moon-colored eyes lifts herself with the rest of the congregation, fingertips trailing a perch over the back of the pew in front of her. A glance to a part of the room is made as she does so- a subtle gesture of further examination that is unlikely to be regarded as such. Familiar bits and pieces, here and there, just like a few others have noted already.

A prayer is read, and as Joseph summons people to open their books and join in, some pray more fervently than others. It's unlike the droning whisper of a Catholic church, with some raising their hands and voices, eyes closing, and Joseph's eyes shut also behind his glasses, with as much conviction as he expects from his congregation. When it comes to a close, and the last 'Amen!' is uttered, he allows a silence to settle before he turns his gaze downwards to the text in front of him.

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."

Joseph lets a moment of silence flag up after the quotation, if only to indicate it is as such, before looking up to address the congregation with a fleeting smile. "I would like to share with you all a passage from the first epistle of the Corinthians, while I speak to you all this Sunday." Sundee. "Because in this day and age, some men would claim that those Gifted individuals among us are of the Devil. That they— " A slight hitch, a glance down to his notes as if to review them. Amend them. "Or we— are being punished for our sins, or that our gifts mark us in some way as agents of sin. They would claim we are evil."

His hand raises to adjust his glasses, and while no one here knows him well, it could be indicative of some nervousness. Otherwise, no such hint. "I would claim they are wrong. That there is no inherent evilness in the gifts of the so-called Evolved, and I would tell you why through what the Bible has to teach us, on the nature of gifts and what we choose to do with them, and why it does not make us any different, or any less than everyone else who stands before me now, or walks by this church today."

Raquelle's girls are amazingly well behaved - except for one part where Diana points to Joseph and says, "Daddy, I though Jeeze have long hairs!" Then after being told to shhh, she does so. Because she gets Raquelle's shades to play with and BJ? Just listens intently, idly sketching on the back of something. Their father though sits there, watching Joseph with half-lidded eyes, exposing the dark shadow and eyeliner and he has a fan as is traditional in some churches, only he flicks open a lovely asian styled fan with cherry blossoms on it and fans himself as he listens, expression sharpening at the topic.

Kinney follows the ceremony of standing when others do, though he remains politely silent and disconnected as others speak the words in earnest. When Joseph begins his sermon, the doc does his best to dismiss his cynicism and listen to the message. It's difficult, but he tries to tell himself that this man and he are on the same page. Peace between the Evolved and ordinary humans. Understanding. Acceptance. One approach is secular, the other spiritual. Both need to be rectified in order for there to be peace.

He casts a glance towards Teo and gives the young Italian what he hopes is a reassuring smile before returning his attention to the front.

Blessed by God. That's kind of a nice way to look at it. Daphne's got a bit of a mischevious smile on her face as she bounces in her aisle. She keeps her eyes open, watching the frumpy old pastor with interest. Definitely a good change of message from some of the ones sprouted on radios throughout the world. And she would know. She's been all over the place. Or— she could guess, at least. Knowing languages didn't come with the ability to run on water.

Magnes' head snaps up from his bible when the prayer ends, listening and nodding, almost speaking a few times before remembering that he's not supposed to. His eyes wander around the gathered people, and he seems to recognize more of them. Aren't some of these guys Abby's terrorist friends?

She doesn't return Cardinal's nod; fails to take objection at his smirk. She doesn't join in the prayer, although the antics of Raquelle's youngest does catch April's attention for the moment they last. Otherwise, however, she listens in silence to the speaker, any reaction April might have to his message hidden behind her sunglasses.

In the warm veil of silence that falls in the wake of many seats lifting off of many pews, cloth shuffling over cloth and voices softening to a murmer which softens to nothing, there's the tell-tale sound of a door trying to close itself quietly. Then Joseph's voice fills the void, microphone fielding the prayer from ear to ear and effectively drowning out the pass of shoe soles scuffing over carpet.

Deckard takes up a position at the back. His suit is middling grey beneath the black of his overcoat, haphazardly ironed. The creases in the pants don't line up well, and there's fading at the cut of one lapel. It's an effort, just. Not a very elaborate one. He's in Clark Kent mode to boot, wire-rimmed glasses lending him an air of wisened neutrality that he doesn't quite deserve in their rectangular sit across the bridge of his nose.

Scruffy jaw set and the angles of his long face occupied by a careful absence of pretty much everthing, he declines to take a seat. He keeps his back to the wall instead, a familiar gargoyle posted at the wall, shoulders sloped and hands slacked open at his sides while his eyes skim across the backs of various variably familiar skulls.

Joseph's minor nervousness is not lost on an empath- Huruma can feel it before she can see it, that tell in the form of hands-to-glasses. Never invite her to Poker is lesson number three-hundred fourteen. When the pastor recants and affixes his beginning words with a 'we' and 'us' instead of 'they' and 'those', a small breach of recognition lights behind Huruma's eyes. So he does mean the words- many times she encounters sermons like this, yet all of them have used an address of the Evolved as a third party- not brethren. She watches him carefully now, delivering a small dose of payment in an intangible form; Joseph should be feeling the result of Huruma assuaging some of that idle nervousness, steadily replacing it with a fresh touch of enthusiasm. Hopefully he will use it to drive his point even further home.

One of those men in the back has no bible in hand, or other paraphenalia; he knows the Good Book well enough on its own, or at least he thinks so. At the amendment in mid-sentence, Cardinal crooks a single brow upwards, over the edge of his shades. Well, that's interesting. He lets his shadowed gaze sweep over the congregation, searching more for reactions than faces. He finds a surprising number of the latter, familiar to him at least, but it doesn't stir him from his perch in the back.

"Nor are we greater than the rest of mankind."

His head ducks to view his Bible, as he reads, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly you desire the greater gifts. We are all children of God, all parts of importance, and we all have our separate purposes, whether that be someone's God-given talent for politics, for art, or for seeing the future. For flight. What we have seen is not what the government insists on calling 'Evolution', but something that's been before us all along. My gift does not make me more miraculous to the next man than eyes are to hands, nor does it make me lesser."

Enthusiasm, yes, and it's easy for him to dismiss this as simply hitting his stride rather than empathic nudges. It manifests as outward confidence. Joseph picks up the Bible in front of him and raises it for show, leather-bound with a golden embossed cross drawn into its rich cover. "It's all here, my friends, my brothers and sisters. The answers are here, in scripture, in God's word. Do not be misled by fear and those who fear. Be led by love and those who love. Can I get an amen?" And some give it to him.

If he makes note of any latecomers, Joseph doesn't have the luxury to acknowledge them. Swept up in his own preaching, there's a certain amount of energy in the way he moves, speaks, gesticulates. Clearly, this is what he lives for, the source of his conviction. He sets the Bible down, moves around his podium towards the edge of the pulpit, still trailing the microphone's chord as well. "The passage ends with the words, and now I will show you the most excellent way, and everyone, that way is through a love of Jesus Christ."

His glasses are drawn off his face, patiently folded and slipped into his breast pocket, as he says, "Is there anyone here today who is not led by fear? Who would allow me to show them the will of God?" A smile, as if maybe to undercut the severity that those words might have. "My gift is the ability to show others God's plans for them, and I'd like to offer it now, to anyone who wishes it, and that you may all bear witness."

Abigail's the one to give that little Amen. Because that's just how you do it back home don't you know. The redhead however has had a vision of the future already and isn't one to try for it again. There's many more in this building and a gift can take its toll on the bearer. She looks behind her towards Huruma though, a gesture with her head towards the Pastor as if to say 'go on'. her blue eyes also rove, catching sight of some familiar faces that are dotting the attending populace. Approval and a big smile on her face for them before she faces front again.

Eh. Daphne makes a tiny face at one point during the sermon, but she quickly covers it up with a smile, though less than it'd been a moment before. The fact she's still bouncing slightly might give an indication that she's not really listening, when in fact she's listening very carefully. The words are of a specific interest to her, though the last part especially. The ability to reveal God's plans… Now that is cool.

Does God pay well? Probably not, but hey, plans are plans. And any plan for her must be pretty good, right? That's the idea, and that's why one of her hands goes straight up, in a 'mememe' fashion, where she's still jumping up and down, though her petite form may get blocked. She's really quite tiny. It takes everything to just keep from calling out loudly or running straight up there. But it's pretty obvious she's among those who wants to know what path God's laid out for her. Though probably not for the best reasons.

When Abigail catches Huruma's gaze, and gives her that nod- Huruma gives the now-redhead a tiny squint in return, still sitting back and looking up at the pastor with a considerable amount of skepticism. Not because of his power- she believes that part- but just because her going go see what his ability does may not be the wisest of ideas. Regardless, there are others more fitting for the First Turn than she.

Whether she realizes it or not, Bebe's face now expresses a noticeable amount of consternation as interior conflict manifests itself outwardly over barely blushing apple cheeks and a fretted but otherwise well-manicured pair of brown brows. Her candy-colored fingernails even bite in to the hymnal she cradles in her lap in lieu of the Good Book proper. Who wouldn't want to catch a glimpse of what the future could bring? But… maybe… this really isn't the proper play for a whore to reenact the role of Mary Magdalene and make a spectacle of herself in front of the congregation for the sake of what amounts to a naive measure of selfishness. Perhaps if this Paster Joseph might be inclined to give her a private show…? She wonders how much it might cost to purchase a man of God. So much for salvation.

The offer is… a surprising one, and Cardinal stares hard down the length of the church at the man giving the sermon, and speaking of visions. By his side, his fingers curl together, then relax, nearly raising before he drops it back down to his side, thumb curling through a belt-loop to try and keep from lifting it. I go up there, some cop'll probably recognize and arrest me. Later, Richard. Maybe the place won't always be this busy. His lips purse in a tight frown, his head shaking just a little as muscles slacken, shoulders dropping fully against the wall in a bit of a slouch.

He expected uncertainty, a smile that could be described as kind drawing over his features as dark eyes quickly sweep over the small forest of arms going up, sparse and few. Inevitably, Joseph can't help but notice the bouncing up and down of the blonde woman, and maybe he can't separate voyeuristic eagerness from religious fervor, because he makes a hand gesture like 'well why not?' "Why don't you step up here, ma'am?" His sets the mic down, intending to let his voice to ring out on its own volume.

Out of the simple fact that he hasn't seen her before, she gets first go. A hand extends to help Daphne up onto the pulpit, and rests a hand on her shoulder as he turns out towards the congregation once more. "I would ask you all to read Psalm 121 with me, and give thanks to the Lord for all our gifts, Evolved and not, while this young lady is permitted to see what God has planned for her."

Towards her again, he offers out both hands for her to take. He speaks to her, but clearly for the rest to hear. "Now all you gotta do is close your eyes and trust in the Lord. What you see today is for your eyes only, I won't ask you to relate it to us if you see fit. They are heavensent symbols intending to guide your way."

Hands clasp, and he begins the prayer, while Daphne is rendered blind.

This is the part that Teodoro had been waiting for, insofar as he wasn't exactly sitting on his hands with bated breath and eyes strained around the size of saucers or about to leap up with an ecstatic shriek of assertion, Me first. No; he wanted to see if it would work. Who came here for it, what they'd look like as the stepped away.

He's never really included himself in his understanding of God's work, as zealously as he tends to participate in it; always sort of saw himself as the endtable holding up the lamp behind the subject of the portrait, a segment of frame, necessary but unimportant. To a Catholic boy, time is premeditated, fixed, if not linear then causal and geometrically definable, implacable and absolute, nailed down by decisions and forces greater than his rough hands or small brain can manifest, and if anyone were to swerve the monstrous strength of its course, it wouldn't be the likes of him.

In other words, Teo wouldn't really think there was any fucking point in knowing, if he wasn't all out of ideas. He's watching Daphne with interest, less vacant than he'd looked when Joseph had drawn the known quantities of his universe aloud in prose, if not quite pinpointed. His eyebrows squint together and he remembers, eventually, to glance at Sonny.

All of this doesn't sit well with the doctor. Prayers. Evolved abilities coming from a deity. It's all rather dubious to someone as scientific as Sonny Bianco. But he remains seated beside Teo, politely attentive and silent. He may not believe any of this, but that doesn't mean he can't respect others' right to believe it.

When Joseph announces he can show people the future, his attention snaps like a band to Teo. A small frown creases. He doesn't doubt such a thing is possible - he's seen evidence of far stranger. But he does worry how seriously the Italian might take whatever visions he's given, or that it might deepen what Sonny fears will turn into depression if the vision is something dark. So he leans in to murmur, tenatively, "…you sure you want to go up there?"

Cambria family watches intently, fan still a going, BJ still a'doodling even though she does look up from time to time and Diana trying to communicate via sign language even if her hands keep getting pushed down her wishlist to Jeeze who is just like Santa in her mind. So fan fan fan, and Raquelle is oddly quiet and watchful, even as his oldest daughter starts falling asleep against him and his youngest crawls in his lap. All eyes on his Holy Nut Cheerio.

People are moving, now — raising hands, rising towards the front. Daphne first, who knows who after that. Rather than stick around to ogle out in the semi-open with so many familiar faces around, Deckard gives in to the discomfort winding around in his gut and turns to slink out the same way he came in.

It took a great deal of effort not to zip up to the stage, but there definitely had been quite the bounce to her step, like an overzealous child who just spotted the 'ding-ding man' and was under strict orders not to run on the sidewalk, so she does the closest thing to it that isn't actually considered running. "Alright!" she says enthusiastically, especially at the idea of it being all hers. That makes this whole thing even better. Eyes close, people get to read Psalms while she takes in a deep breath and waits for it. This is going to be better than a sugar rush while running at full speed, isn't it?

It always starts with blackness, as if to set some sort of mindscape stage. Daphne will hear nothing, see nothing, and feel only the pastor's hands clasped around her's. Then, up above (if there is an above), stars begin to pop into existance, bright and dazzling in the velvet darkness. Once assembled, they shift, string together, descend down as a sunset in the distance, etheral red, begins to break…

While the vision comes over her, she doesn't stagger or look ill, she doesn't seem to be taken aback, but she looks confused for a moment as her head tilts to the side, lips pressing in a tight line. What could this mean. Well, actually now that she thinks about it, she did have her eye on this really nice Harry Winston necklace. That looked like the stars all lined up on a string. And Harry Winston is reveared as a jeweler of the stars… And maybe the sunsetting means she better do it before the sun sets! Maybe they're planning to move it! Or maybe someone else will get to it first!

As her eyes open, she blinks a few times, until she's able to see the pastor. "That was so much cooler than a phone call." From the mob. "Gotta go, I think I should take care of this now! Thanks." With that said, she quite literally zooms out of the building, down the walkway to the main door, which opens and closes with a breeze of air. Hold onto your hats, ladies.

And yes, that would be a very public display of super speed. And really freaking fast superspeed. Does she care? Not really. They gotta catch her first has always been her philosophy.

Magnes jumps to the side slightly when she ZOOMS, regaining his composure and clearing his throat. It goes through his head for a moment if anyone else gets a turn, and he decides that instead of sitting down, he'll raise his hand again. He still curiously wonders where that girl zoomed to; he'll find out eventually…

A wind ripples past Cardinal, whose head turns far too slowly to track the speedy girl - but fast enough to notice the departure of one Flint Deckard. His lips twitch in the faintest of smiles, and then he looks back to watch the congregation, as faces and hands leap up, as others murmur amongst one another. "Sheep to the pulpit," he murmurs under his breath.

"Daaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyuuuuuuuuuuuum, forgive me mary mother of Jesus. I'ma bout to get profane…" And yes that Jesus is pronounced /Hay-sooos/. Raquelle can't help blurt out almost dropping his fan. "What the hell…So THAT'S why vanilla sunshine looked a hot mess!" BJ wakes up. "Daddy, you said a two dollars worth of bad words." Then she helps herself to his wallet, he's too busy covering up Diana's mouth and muffling her tiny 'EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZOOOOMVROOOM' noises of racecarness with a hand.

GHTRFGHGhjkfdg. At the sudden departure of the speedster, Joseph's hands suddenly empty and him looking searchingly at the young woman, and then she's gone— in a gust of wind that whips his tie out from his jacket and musses what had been rather neatly blowdried hair, hands going up as if to defend himself from something.

Senior Pastor Ashby, watching on, stands up in a show of concern at the show of superspeed, and a quiet murmur settles over the congregation once Daphne is gone. And very gone. Joseph smooths his tie back down and glances towards the other pastor, some silent kind of communication going on there. The older man gives a slight shake of his head, and a flicker of annoyance that only just makes it to Joseph's face is really only Huruma's to know about. Taking a breath, he looks back out towards the now thicker sea of hands, and notably he sees Magnes amongst them, a rueful smile being offered towards the young man before Joseph is raising his hands.

Steady. Steady. "I would have all of you come forward to receive this gift, but I think for now, I ask you all to come see me in later sermons or other hours of your choosing for private counseling." The microphone is apprehended again at the podium, so he doesn't have to keep raising his voice. "What I wanted to show here, to you all today, that our gifts are nothing to be ashamed of, just like any talent folks among us here today possess, whether you need to Register for 'em or not."

A trace of cynicism, but gone when he next quotes as his glasses get put back on, "To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

A pause, a soft whisper as the Bible closes. Joseph hesitates, before offering a smile. "Come. Let us stand together and pray."

The sermon concludes, but not before more prayers, more speaking. Songs, too, there's always singing, and when Joseph releases the attention of those gathered, the murmur of people standing fills the hall just as it began, connections reestablished as people freely linger.

The sudden flight of the speedster has Teo's head whipping around on its axis so fast it probably threatens to induce whiplash. Fortunately for Teo, it doesn't. The pale of his eyes flashes hyena blank for an instant as he catches Deckard's departing shape on the swing of the door into too-bright daylight.

"'M sure I don't," he murmurs back at Sonny the next moment. Creasing his eyes with a hard blink, as if to scrub away the departed old robber's staticky silhouette imprint negatived onto his visual cortex, he turns back around. Squints at the shape of throttled— er, muffled children up front. The transition into prayer would've been rougher if it weren't for the pastor's careful guidance, no doubt.

Teo joins the rest of the patrons in rising to his feet. They sound like an army. Less of one when it comes to speaking in rolling, approximate syncopation with their dozens and variations, and he's quick to snare a prayerbook and find Sonny to page when it's time.

While certainly not a speedster, Bebe isn't inclined to stick around for any longer than absolutely necessary once the sermon's come to its conclusion. She slips into the outgoing crowd quietly and does her best to keep her head down before finally finding her way by the double doors and back out to where someone of her questionable ilk in more apt to belong — the streets.

With the service over, speedster gone and leaving others to approach Joseph at their leisure, Abigail helps the little blue haired lady out of the pew so that she can start her way out. She returns back to her own seat, facing Huruma and looking up at the woman. "You.. were not someone I surmised I would ever see here Huruma. But welcome" messenger bag clasped in hands and her jacket as well. "I have to go see to the drinks and the snacks. But. Your welcome. I think Magnes is here somewhere"

Magnes is looking through his bible when everything is over, talking to a bored looking boy leaning against a pew. "And then Jesus just turned over and yelled at the water to stop. See how awesome Jesus is? You should totally read the bible, it's not boring at all. And then there's this part with bears…"

A slight push off the wall brings Cardinal forward a step, as the service ends and everyone and their grey-haired mother gain their feet. He brings both hands upwards, drawing the shades off his face and rubbing against the bridge of his nose and corners of his eyes with thumb and forefinger-knuckle for a moment before sliding those oakleys back into place. He turns his head a bit in a sidelong glance down to his 'neighbor' April, asking in casually wry tones, "Not usually a big church person either, eh?"

Raquelle just sits there really mostly still in somewhat shock, drawn back to reality though by being bitten/gummed by his little one as she squirms around in his lap. He murmurs something low near her ear and she calms down though, by the time there are prayers and ending things, BJ is 4 dollars richer, a few condoms have fallen out of Raquelle's wallet onto the floor, Diana is eyeing 'short haired Jeeze predatorialy and oh when there is singing - Raquelle keeps his mouth shut, but he does hum softly. As /soon/ as it is over though, Diana elbows him in the crotch in a particularly hard squirm and he gasps before the pretty pigtailed in pink princess makes a gap-toothed beeline for Joseph, running as fast as she can. And Raquelle is in the middle of - "Trojan was a war sweetie, those are from my history class when I was little - no they aren't candy - go catch your sister please…" He drops to his knees between pews to gather up his belongings even as his 8 year old climbs onto his back. "What does Evolve mean Daddy?"

The sermon is a message that — well, once again it highlights the contrasts between this time and the one she came from. She did get some measure of news behind Moab's walls, and more before. April's thoughts and opinions remain hidden behind her sunglasses as she pries herself away from the wall. Where some move towards the indicated room with snacks and drinks, she has her course set for the exterior door — making it all of two steps before Cardinal addresses her. "No," the woman answers. "I haven't been in a church in a very long time." Never mind attended a service.

Huruma remains rather introverted during the rest of the activity, subdued even as Abby sees to the older woman, watching the latter with mild interest until they go out of view and Abby comes back to the front. By the time the girl returns, Huruma has risen to her feet and twined her arms to cross over her midsection. Though her attention is up front on Joseph, it parts from him down to Abby as she speaks up to the older woman. "Am I that out of place?" Huruma asks the redhead in return, a laugh bubbling on her lips with the dark voice. "I met your pastor not long ago- an'he seemed worth watching." If Huruma got what she expected, she does not say.

It could have gone worse. Probably. Joseph is taking off his reading glasses again and letting them sit behind the Bible on the podium, readily moving down from the platform and approaching the senior pastor, the two exchanging quiet words and a slightly dopey smile from the younger of the two— before the pigtailed little girl is managing to cut through the thickening crowd and all the way over to him. Recognising her as Raquelle's kid, Joseph affords her a bright smile, crouching down comfortably. "Hi there," he says. "Now which one're you - Diana?"

Diana /may/ have bitten or kicked a few people to get past them to reach Joseph but she's nothing but determined as she pats her hair to check her pigtails and then she just throws her arms around Joseph's neck and clings there like a little leach. "M' /Princes/ Dina." She wants to make sure this is clear and she even gives him a juicy kiss on the cheek, smelling like bubblegum flavored lip balm. "I has sparkly pink on fingers, hi! You're Jeeze so you have to get /pink/ pony okay? You ask your Daddy."

Magnes starts to walk over to Huruma when the kid seems to have lost complete interest, smiling and waving. She's not so scary anymore, she did save him. "Miss Huruma! I didn't know you went to church." He smiles at Abby, nodding when she seems like she might be busy.

"Me either," admits Cardinal in quiet tones, turning his gaze in a hard look straight down the length of the church to the podium once more, "Not since the nuns, really." A beat, two, pass as he adjusts his cufflinks absently, but before she can escape gracefully he asks casually, "What'd you think of the sermon? Presume you came for it, same as me."

"You did?" That's surprise. "There's just, there's a lot of familiar people. I think I saw Teo in the back with someone" She knows who the someone is but she's sure as hell not saying it. "I think I see Richard and I saw Mike" aka Flint. "You just.. I didn't think you'd attend this church" But stranger things in the world have happened though she knew the woman was religious of a sorts. "It's nice to see you here though, I should go disappear into the back with the food and drinks. Hello Magnes" Abby offers a smile, then a wave to Teo and Richard, Kinney, the ones she knows before she's heading with the flow towards the back room, twisting and turning so that she has as little contact with people as possible as she goes. A smile for the little girl with Joseph.

"We can go now. 'M tired," Teo tells his boy, swinging a long leg around the corner of a pew. He tosses a hand up at Abigail when he thinks he has a fractioned probability of catching her eye in the eddy of the crowd and around Huruma's monolithic shape, grins briefly at its reception, before shoving it down into the pocket of his jacket. He ducks his head slightly to check he hasn't scuffed a shoe, and maneuvers toward the widening bar of sunlight from the door. "Hope that wasn't as entirely unrewarding or painful as you were expecting.

"Skeptical, I noticed," he says, crooking a momentary grin. "But at least the good news is true news, isn't it? More than you'd find on tele— " Both men vanish out of stark edges of planed wood, their footfalls dissipated in the mingling cadence of dozens of others.

"BJ, sweetie…" Raquelle takes a deep breath. "You're kneeing daddy's kidney, Daddy needs his kidney and your sister may be proposing to the pastor so if you get off my back and let me gather up my con-condiment packets and fan, I'll let you wear lip gloss to school on monday." There are a few moments of silence before BJ scrambles off and smooths down her dress, skipping out of the pew area. "Cherry." She counters. "Bubble gum pink of clear." She crosses her arms over her chest and starts to raise her voice. "MY DADDY HAS TROJAN CONDIME-" Zoom, Hand over mouth. Raquelle moves quickly, shoving his wallet in his pocket. "BJ, you're going you're going to make God spank me, do you want daddy to get a spanking? A holy spanking? I'll cry and then my eyeliner will run and I won't be able to sit down. DO you want that to happen? Please behave, I'm sorry I accidentally stepped on your pet and broke his leg off, okay, I am…but he got better. He ate all his crickets."

Ah, Magnes. Huruma eyes Abby as she walks away, now centering her eyes down at Magnes and officially regarding his words. "There are many things tha'you do not know about me, Magnes." The woman's lips curl up in simmering amusement, and her weight shifts from one leg to another. "But I could say th'same for you. You neve'struck m'as religious."

A surprised laugh comes from Joseph at the girl's words, and he feels doubly obligated to inform her that he's not actually Jesus if only because his superior is standing right there. So, he stands up again and offers her his hand, to lead her back over towards her father. "Okay, Princess Diana. Well like I told your daddy, if you're a good little girl I'll bet you can get a pony you want up in heaven, certainly a pink one. Or a horse of a different colour. My name's Joseph, though, just so we're clear." That'll do. As he approaches, Raquelle gets a bright, pleased smile, and attempts to cut through the monologue he's attempting not to listen to with a bright and cheerful, "Glad you could make it, Mr. Cambria." He holds up the hand he has clasped with Diana's. "Found your princess." Not in another castle.

April is polite enough not to try and escape before she's sure Cardinal is done with the conversation; she doesn't have a pressing need to leave. Not yet. "Not… really," the woman admits, stuffing her hands in her pockets self-consciously. "I — I'm not sure why I came."

"Good luck Abby!" Magnes says as she leaves, then smacks himself in the forehead. Good luck, what a stupid thing to say. He tries to focus on Huruma now, forgetting any awkwardness he may have created. "I just wanted to see what it was all about, I didn't grow up with religion. I'm just trying to see if life has more meaning. I mean, I've time travelled, I've seen proof that fate exists, so maybe there's more to life, you know?"

Abigail halts at hearing 'sorry I stepped on your pets leg and broke it off' turning around to peer at who it is. Father of the little girl who was hugging the Pastor. Time to be like the salmon, swim upstream till she's there, adjacent to the quartet of adults and children. At a lull in the conversation between the two, her own southern accented voice interjects politely. "I Can fix your pet, if you want. It's leg" A glance to Joseph before she offers her hand. "Abigail"

"Josepth." Diana attempts 'cutely' before nodding slowly. "I tell Beepers she has cheese when she go to clouds." She explains to Joseph as she looks up at him with that gappy smile of hers then she beams at her daddy when they get near. "I get pony!" Happy giggly bounce. BJ does however, appear to be somewhat calmed down for whatever reason, it happened pretty quickly. Raquelle chuckles before flashing a bright smile to Joseph cuz he's right there, with his child. "Please, sweetling, just Raquelle or even Kelly - lovely sermon though, I could listen to you speak hours on end. Blessed with them soothing pipes. And I just /had/ to come."

That? Would be when BJ's attention is completely caught up by Abigail and she squints and offers a hand. "You talk like Auntie Bev, I'm Billy Jean." It doesn't matter who that hand was offered to cuz she's stepping forward to take it and shake it firmly. "Da Vinci got hurt because he likes to sleep on Daddy's face…"

As there's a wave in his direction, Cardinal lifts one hand in a slight return of it, a wan smile directed in Abigail's direction as she moves with some others towards the back room with others, hand dropping back down to his side. "Guidance," he replies quietly, "It's what we're all looking for, I suppose. Some… sign that we're doing the right thing. That we're on the right road, that we're planning… mm. I'm not so sure I believe anymore, but, hell, these days? I'll give anything a try." A few more moments, and then he pushes away from the wall fully and takes a couple steps door-wards, looking over with a rueful half-smile for April, "Sorry for being the cliche stranger talkin' your ear off. I should get out've here before someone official recognizes me. Hope you found whatever it was you were looking for."

Or judging by his Reaction Fail with Abigail just now- there is a different reason he came to this church. Huruma is passive about thinking about that part, at least. "Th'reason nobody can tell you th'meaning of life is because meaning is whateve'you make it. If there is more t'figure out in your life, Magnes, then per'aps you are going in th'right direction." Does she mean religion, or does she mean simply trying to find meaning? Either works out.

"I'm sure service'll be ten times improved at least musically once we get you onboard as a volunteer," Joseph says, merrily, handing Diana over to Raquelle, hands exchanged, etc. "Why don't you come by sometime before Wednesday and you can show me?" And Abigail is there, who gets a quick smile from Joseph, especially when she's promptly crowded by the little girls. "If you'll both excuse me, I gotta make the rounds. Nice seeing you both again." Raquelle gets a pat on the shoulder, and Abby would get an arm squeeze if Joseph didn't know better. But he does. With that, he heads crowd-wards once more to shake hands and meet new faces.

She echoes Cardinal's wan smile, watches him retreat. The impulse to say goodbye is belated and ultimately stifled; not much point in saying it to his back. Guidance. Assurance that it's the right road. He hits every nail on the head, and it leaves April standing there in bemused surprise for several moments. Then she shakes her head to dispel the mental cobwebs and heads for the door herself. Enough gallivanting about the city; it's time to get back and go to work.

"I'm gonna keep looking, even with religion." Magnes says with a bit of determination, nodding and smiling affirmatively. His eyes wander down to the red dress, then they suddenly avert down to his bible. Bible thoughts! "I'm hoping to do more time travelling, if he lets me. It's enlightening."

"Run pastor, I'll cover you" A joke from the redhead as she smiles to them all then focuses on BJ. Save the pastor, save the world. Abigail takes BJ's hand easily a firm grip. "You can call me Abby. He sleeps on your dad's face huh? What if I told you that I could fix him up, right proper huh? I can even give him that leg back" It's whispered quietly, loud enough for their immediate group. "God's honest promise all it'll take is a prayer to the Lord" A look over to the flamboyant hair dresser. "If your dad want that, that is"

The tall woman hums quietly, sidling away from the entrance of the pew with a few small, sauntering steps. If she didn't want to be noticed, she would not have worn the dress. "Well, dear-" She begins with a coo, putting out a hand towards Magnes' face to draw a finger over his cheek, all the while having her body nearly turned to depart. "-don'get too attached t'him." And with that little cryptic moment, Huruma moves away.

Insight comes from the strangest places, even when the source doesn't know it. Cardinal was speaking of himself more than her — taking advantage of a stranger to muse about his own reasonings — but withholds any judgement about whether or not he found what he was looking for. From the pensive expression on his features as he heads out into the agonies of the afternoon sun, he hadn't, yet. But there were more places to look for guidance, still. And blind faith, if all else fails.

Raquelle says his goodbyes to Joseph, mostly blowing a kiss. "Hallelujah /and/ Amen…" His gaze flicks back over to Abby as he tips his hat and winks. "Aren't you a luscious little strawberry, I'm Raquelle…this is BJ and the princess here is Diana and-"

BJ takes over. "If you can fix him that would be good! I know he has eight legs but he needs all of them!" Diana is playing with Raquelle's pocket.

Magnes of course misunderstands Huruma, cheeks completely flushed, barely thinking straight, but he had no idea she knew Hiro! "A-ah, um, ah…" He doesn't get a word out, he just watches her leave, then stands there looking rather dumb-struck.

Eight legs. Eight… oh lord. "Spider?" Someone has a spider for a pet. "I can see what I can do about him, yes. So long as he doesn't bite me. Probably take a little bit of time, But I can manage it. Again, only if your father says I can" Her own hand pulled back and straightened, Abigail's cheeks take the same color as her hair. "You'll be joining the Choir?"

"Tarantula." BJ is quick to correct. "He's totally huge, but he doesn't bite." She looks to Raquelle who is just shuddering, cuz ew. Spider. He covers with a flash of smile. "Of course sweetie, Miss Abigail here can totally doctor your large and not amazingly creepy arachnid /anytime/ she wants." Thank you acting skillz, he even manages to sound convincing. That takes practice. "I'm sorry strawberry shortcake, about the choir we'll see. I love to sing, and I'm sure choir people love to sing too but my experience with church music is a bit rusty. Last time I sang in church I was 4'11, now I'm 6'2 and honey chile, more than my legs have grown, if you know what I mean, and certain things drop so I'm sure-" He hesitates when Diana asks. "What you drop daddy?"

"His.. voice. His voice dropped!" Abby answers. "All boys voices drop when they hit a certain age, all the better to yell at misbehaving little girls, or when he sings the wrong note during service!" Church does a thing to Abigail's emotional state, calms her down somewhat. "BJ, Diane, why don't we all head back to the food and the drinks and let me get you some muffins huh? So your daddy can tell me all about joining Choir with me! And I will tell you alllll about Pila and Scarlett, my friends bird and my cat. That sound like a deal! Diane, you can even climb up on my back and I'll carry you!" Because BJ is a little too big for her.

"Daddy drop his VOICE?!" Diana is still learning volume control but she's marching towards Abigail and circling around her as if judging her steed capacity. "You be a small pony, but pretty." And pretty soon unless Abigail moves, she'll have a 4 year old trying to find a way to climb up her back. Raquelle just looks a bit relieved, chuckling lowly. "Such a polite little thing, glass of sweet peach tea with extra sugar in it aren't you, thank you kindly." BJ looks interested in the pets as she starts babbling about the stats of different insects.

"Oh, I bet he dropped a lot of things!" She gives Raquelle a wink, kneeling down to aid in the upwards scramble of the 4 year old, and to avoid the girl accidentally slipping up her skirt. The redhead waits for Raquelle to fall into pace, a wave to Huruma, and with the other two, her own hands hooked around the younger girls knees off towards the back they go. "Really? A praying Mantis eats it's mate?!"

"My voice, my balls, my pants…" Raquelle lists things on his fingers as he follows after oofing when he has to pick up BJ. "Your mother is 5'11 of chocolate delight, you are getting too /big/ to climb up daddy. My hip will go out and I'll be walking like an S." He comments still cheerfully before muttering softly in Japanese when she starts talking about bugs. Something about 'how the hell you are the fruit of my loins…damn unique IQ based DNA interests…' But still fondly. Really. Diana makes horsie noises. BJ confirms this and begins talking about Wetas. Giant ones. THIS ladies and gentlepeople, is the Cambria family.

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