They Can Register My Corpse!


cat_icon.gif helena_icon.gif raith_icon.gif wayland2_icon.gif

Scene Title They Can Register My Corpse!
Synopsis A very hungry man seeks, and finds, help.
Date July 14, 2010

Cathedral Of St. John The Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

Night is slowly falling over Manhattan Island. Amidst the drifting homeless a young man weaves and ducks through the constant stream of people on this street. Walking close to the doors and front stoops to avoid meeting the crowd, he stalks with hands in pockets, a ravenous look in his eye. If Famine himself were to dismount from his apocalyptic steed and slum among homeless mortals, he'd probably look like this.

Ducking past a slowly shuffling bum and weaving between a group of girls loaded down with shopping bags, he stops at last to look up at the steeple of St. John. He exhales harshly, a scowl forming on his face, and he turns on his heels to walk down the alley leading down to the basement. To the homeless shelter. Looking around him at the doorway for a long, paranoid moment, he finally opens the door and peers in, looking ready to bolt at any second.

Helena is inside Saint John's, helping on the food line. Here's the funny thing about Helena - is it hot outside? Because summer in New York can be pretty nasty, even at night if there's no breeze. But inside Saint John's, the air is nice and cool, like they've got the most perfect air conditioner one could ever hope to have. And one might argue that they do. With a trucker cap on her head that says Keep On The Grass, Helena doles out casserole to whatever plate is stuck in front of her with a cheerful smile on her face and an occasional few words exchanged, particularly with some of the younger homeless. They may not have places to live, but somehow the magic of the intarwebz reaches everyone one way or another.

Being in, or near, a cathedral of any kind is a rarity for Cat. To her, they're symbols of unsavory things, but she does concede they do good work in some ways. Thus, notwithstanding that one of her few visits to this place featured a collection of weak moments she hasn't since spoken of or even acknowledged ever took place, she approaches.

The panmnesiac isn't on the food line, or doing much in the way of work at all presently, choosing instead to enjoy the benefits of Helena's temperature modulation. Chosen attire is simple enough: T-shirt featuring Led Zeppelin, dark shorts, athletic shoes. One shoulder features a guitar case, the other a backpack. Maybe she's taking a break before doing more. Maybe she's just waiting for Helena. Could even be both.

At least Cat doesn't need to feel alone in the 'not usually hanging around cathedrals' group. Raith spends no time in them unless necessitated by business or recreation. Unlike Cat, however, Raith is on the food line, doing his part to feed the homeless. Anyone who knows him even a little bit will likely hazard a guess that he's only doing it to improve his reputation in the eyes of the Ferrymen: Few in the organization really trust former members of the Vanguard, and even if Raith wasn't a known quantity in New York while that trouble was happening, he still has the added detriment of having been very, very high up in the ranks. C'est la vie. He is here, and he is helping.

And probably counting down the seconds until he's free to do more 'productive' things.

A panting ghost, Wayland drifts into the room hugging the corners. Buzzing, gnawing in his brain. Food. He stops himself long enough to scan the room, sizing up the various homeless like a rabbit trying to find the way out of a wolf's den. He spots Raith, Cat… and Helena. He visibly jumps where he stands, eyes widening, panting emptiness in his stomach filled with lead for a starry moment. He musters up the wherewithal to cross to the back of the line where he rocks on his heels, hands in pockets, tromping forward a pace or two as the line shambles on. When at last he reaches Helena he looks up at her, then back down, then back up. His mouth moves silently for a moment, forming words too fast to speak, but then finally settles. "Uh… thanks," he finally manages.

"Sure." Helena smiles at Wayland personably, and for a few moments seems oblivious to his continued observation. But when he's still staring, she gives him a rueful grin, suggesting with perhaps surprising good cheer, "You could take a picture? I hear they last twice as long." But not a moment later she's dishing out some casserole to an old man who looks like he doesn't have enough teeth to even chew it, and with Wayland still there, she inquires softly to the younger man, "Do you need some help?"

Observing, keeping to herself and whatever thoughts go through her mind, Cat refrains from actively calling attention on herself. The guy who eyes Helena in that way causes her to stir slightly, but not overly much. She knows so very well how capable Miss Dean is at self-defense. The very thought gives her a flash of West Rosen being pinned to the floor by the air itself.

Jensen Raith's presence on the food line, however, provides a third potential purpose for her presence here. Seeking to corner the man, to ask about Simon Brum and Avi Epstein.

While Raith has plenty of smiles and a 'You're welcome' ready for anyone that thanks him, he's still Raith, and that means he is giving everyone he sees as thorough a scrutinization as he can with only a few seconds to glance. Wayland, however, manages to hold his attention longer than the few seconds everyone else has been getting, if only because he's around long enough to be given more attention. More attention that further draws Raith's attention to Catherine Chesterfield, off to the side. Worth noting: They'll be having a conversation before the night is over, guaranteed. But beyond that, the ex-spy focuses on the job in front of him, silently reminding himself that he's almost finished.

Wayland starts when Helena asks if he needs help, what scarce muscle wrapped around his bones tensing up. "Sorry," he pants with the breathlessness of one who is truly starving. His next words come in a torrent, almost too fast for the mind to follow, or for the tongue to speak: "I tried to find something in the dumpster but I got sick and now I'm just hungrier thank you."

His eyes nearly bug as he looks down at the casserole on his plate and he scuttles off rapidly to a nearby table, face flushing. Sitting down, he grabs a fork and begins to pick it apart slowly, snapping with a downward motion of jaw and neck into tiny morsels and chewing them into oblivion before he even thinks to swallow, trying to fill his stomach as efficiently as possible. His teeth clamp down viciously on the fork a few times from the vehemence of his eating, and he twitches with discomfort as he does so. His entire body sets to the task with what could best be called 'frantic energy', his mind blank.

Bemusedly Helena watches Wayland. Something about Wayland reminds Helena very much of Cook, only without the Irish accent or the balls of pure steel. Her gaze passes back over to Cat, did you see that? and she rather mechanically goes back to scooping food out, smiling absently to people and responding to conversation but not really striking it up, unabashedly keeping her gaze on Wayland. It is apparently not occuring to her that the staring might make him even more fidgety.
They aren't telepaths, these two women, but the notion Helena gets is a shared one as is evident when Cat nods once in her direction. She glances toward the voracious youth who exhibits such gusto in consuming food, then back to the blonde. Were she not so mnemonically capable, Wayland would still definitely be remembered.

As would the wisdom of knowing never to get between him and food.

It's at this point that Raith reaches some form of conclusion in his mind, stepping just slightly back from his station and placing a hand on Helena's shoulder as he passes. "Cover mine, I'll be right back," he adds. A few moments later, he's out mingling with the homeless diners, and heads straight to the table occupied by Wayland. "Hey, take it easy, son," he says as he approaches, "Gonna hurt yourself if you aren't careful." But that's not all he's got to say.

"Heard about the last meal you tried. Sorry it didn't work out, but listen, if you think you need to see a doctor, I know some that'll see you for free. They won't ask you a lot of questions either, if that matters to you."

The voracious speed at which Wayland atomizes the food in front of him leaves the plate more or less empty in front of him, and he is busy mopping up crumbs with a finger when Raith speaks. His hands come up like he's about to play a Rachmininoff concerto, fingers splayed, and he seems to shudder from the shock of being directly addressed. When he turns around his eyes tell more than he could ever say: confusion, panic and fear, like a rabbit backing into the corner of its cage. "I got better," he finally manages to gasp. Somehow he takes no comfort in this.

He looks beyond Raith now at Helena, and his eyes widen, glassy and emaciated, as though taking some small comfort from her face, the only really familiar thing in the room. An arm yanks back behind him, pulling up the back of the moldy hoodie and digging into his back pocket to produce a black plastic wallet, much too big for his tiny cargo shorts. His right eye twitches and his jaw sets as he tugs at the thing, until with a great heave he jimmies it from its place. With trembling hands he pops open the buttons, lifts a flap and pulls out a white plastic card, a New York drivers' license. Hand quivering, he alights onto his feet and paces slowly up to Helena, keeping the front hidden in his palm.

"What is this - ?" Helena starts to ask, putting down her scoop and taking the license in a plastic covered hand. She stares at it a moment, and then looks hard at Wayland, and then back to the license. Politely, she murmurs to the person alongside of her, "Can you take over for a bit? I need a break. Thanks." The smile she flashes is easy and confidant - she's gotten so good at pulling that poker face. "C'mon 'round to out back near the kitchen." she offers to Wayland. "Some folks I trust will step out, and we'll see how we can help you, okay? Don't be scared." The last is said soothingly, like she's talking to a spooked horse.

She doesn't speak, being other than near the principals of this interchange, but the observed actions have Cat seeking eye contact with Helena, followed by a glance at the youth to ask non-verbally if she needs or wants assistance. A step is taken to reduce distance between them, but only that single step. Eyes watch and wait for responses.

Raith watches Wayland stand up and head back over to Helena, and elects to let him do so. Whatever it is, he seems to know what he's doing. Cat, however, receives more direct attention, Raith matching her own step to close the distance and adding several more. "He says he's fine, but I'm not convinced," he says to the woman in a low tone suitable for laying conspiracies, "If you want my opinion, I think we should take him to Gun Hill, get a doctor to look at him. I don't know if he's coked-out or sick or what, but something's up." The fact that 'something's up' is emphasized by how intently he is watching the exchange between the youth and Helena, waiting perhaps to receive some sort of direction from her.

Without thinking, Wayland begins to bob on the balls of his feet, a twitchy unconscious dance belying the seething storm of energy in his body and mind. His mouth closed behind thin lips, he hooks a pinch of inner cheek between his canine teeth and worries at it. "I heard this place was…" he begins, lips still partially pinned closed. Letting them go he says with free mouth, "I didn't think I'd find you here. I'm not hungry anymore, I feel… okay." He looks over at Raith, brows raising and furrowing. "I didn't do cocaine," he says, teeth gritting again.

"I ate a half-wrapped burger. My guts /burned/ but then I felt normal. Hour later, hungry. Buzzing, buzzing in my head." he shudder-sighs, pure desperation on his face. He looks around, animal tension radiating all around him, seeming to grip the room. "I don't really know how to explain it…" he lowers his voice, so that only Raith and Helena can hear. "I don't know. But if I think it's what I think it is… Helena Dean, help me."

"Why don't we step outside." Helena says again, this time less an invitation and more an order in a subtle sort of reassumption of that old mantle. As they walk, she makes brief eye contact with Cat and Raith, requests - yes, back to requests - for them to accompany. Raith is made for being a look-out really, and Cat, well, Cat knows everything, right? Right. Presuming at least Wayland follows her, once they're outside, the heat of the night quickly dissapates, but the church doesn't lose its comfortable coolness either. "Alright." she says, still holding onto his license. "Have you been tested? Do you want to be tested, so you know for sure? And if you've got SLC, what do you think you'll need?"

Jensen is eyed calmly as he addresses her, the result being a nod. Taking him to Gun Hill seems a very reasonable course to follow. Moments later, without having used words, Cat's on the move. Headed out after Helena and Wayland, taking a watchful stance and listening from close by without getting so near as to make the youth feel crowded. Or so she hopes.

Cat's on the move, and Raith is right behind her as they step outside. No worries, really: He simply assumes that everyone inside will think it's some sort of gang thing and keep their noses out of it. Like Catherine, also, he keeps back. Wayland approached Helena about this little matter, and so it's Helena's deal. She'll handle it. The most they'll need from him is likely to use his cigarette boat to get over to Staten Island.

Wayland answers each question in short, clipped monosyllables: "No, yes, not sick." One can almost hear the blood rushing in his veins, the churning of his guts and the canny paranoia of a half-wild, scared kid. "Feel fine, /more/ than fine, I feel… more than ever," he adds. "I was on the bus that got held up two days ago. Something happened. My guts burned like they do now. They haven't stopped. I woke up last night wrapped in my own clothes. The human body doesn't do what it did to me, unless… unless I'm not like most people." The last words are nearly mumbled, sotto voce in his quiet, strained tenor voice.

"I get hungry faster, move and even climb more. I run a hundred city blocks then curl up to shiver from hunger. And all the time, my guts are burning. You can test me if you want. I just need to get out." He seems reluctant to speak the next few words, then finally forces them out. "My parents work for FEMA. They're probably pulling favors." He sucks air in and blows it out audibly through his nose, voice breaking. "I can't live like that. They couldn't live like that. With me. You see?"

"If your parents understand, than you're luckier than you think." Helena's voice is momentarily darkened by something, but she doesn't indulge in it. "Alright. We have someplace we can take you, but it means you don't get to ask a lot of questions about anything other than yourself. We can get you tested, even if you're pretty sure - and I'm pretty sure," she waves the driver's license vaguely. "We won't make you register, you can choose to do so, but only of your own free will and with the understand that presently choosing not to do so may be your civil right, it is currently not a legal one. Do you understand all of this, and if you do, are you still willing to come with us?"

The youth's description of his situation is listened to intently, her features showing a measure of speculation. Perhaps Cat is comparing it to the contents of that (in)famous book by Chandra Suresh. "It seems," she offers some moments after Helena has spoken in reply, "that your body started to go into overdrive. It always wants to be in motion, and the movement requires fuel. Like being in a car with the accelerator stuck to the floor, it goes until it runs out of gas. Your body wants to keep going, and it screams out for the tank to be filled."

After letting some seconds of silence go by, Cat turns to something Wayland said. "You first experienced this when the bus you were on was robbed? Stressful situation, adrenaline… Did you try to interfere with the robbery?"

Turning to Helena, and thereby leaving Wayland time to consider what she's said, a recommendation is made. "Fairly new place, in the Bronx, is good."

"I'll get our shifts tied up," is Raith's take on it, as he ducks back into the basement and leaving the other three in the alley to plan their next move.

"They don't know," Wayland says, voice steeling in an impulse to avoid falling completely over the edge. "I bolted. Call me what you will. They can /Register/ my corpse." Black anger fills his features and he looks away for a moment until it is gone. Once it finally leaves, he looks back up. "When I say pulling favors, they're probably doing more than normal to get me. I can't go back. They'll stop me from moving. I may be followed. I don't know. I'm sorry." Looking over at Cat he nods. "I used to be able to not eat for days without issue, and, well, I was a lot bigger than now. Lot slower, too. I might be able to control it. Can't think right now. Scared."

Call me what you will. Helena can't help glancing back at Cat a moment, something about the teenager's turn of phrase strikes an amused chord, but it's back to the serious when she turns back. "Alright." she says. "We can take you to the Bronx. Raith…?" Yeah, she figures it'll be his boat. "Cat, could you let them know we're done for the day?"

Glancing behind her, she sights Jensen going to do what he said, heading back inside to let it be known they won't return. Toward Helena, on facing her again, she replies "He's got it covered." No boats are necessary, in any case, they're all in Manhattan. The Bronx is reachable by road. By Cat's car, the purple Neon which understates her financial resources. Feet start off at a slow pace so as not to outdistance the others, and she's musing. "When we get where we're going, you'll have a chance to relax and think, work on getting under control." Somewhere along the line she'll make use of her phone, to make a critical arrangement.

They're going to need several pizzas.

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