Warm and Fuzzy


deckard_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Warm and Fuzzy
Synopsis Joseph makes the treacherous journey to "Hell" and shakes hands with a criminal.
Date May 29, 2009

Staten IslandThe Lighthouse

Yesterday was a long day. Bones broken and rebroken and put back together…almost the way they were but not quite. Blackouts from the pain, generalized exhaustion.

Deckard hasn't exactly been asleep the entire time since he initially passed out. Evidently he got up long enough to shower and salvage a hammock from somewhere, because he has one, now. It's stretched between two rickety looking trees a little ways out from the playground situated in the Lighthouse's backyard, white rope creaking lax beneath the swing of his weight in the early evening breeze sweeping up off of the beach.

Because while he hasn't been asleep the entire time, he definitely is now. Sunglasses screened black over his eyes, hawaiian shirt half-buttoned dark blue and brilliant white over an undershirt that reeks of all his typical class, he has a beer bottle in the hand that's managed to remain up in the hammock with him. The other trails slack at the sand and loose leaf litter stirring in the shade beneath him.

It's getting dark enough that if you squint, you can see the recent dying fires of Midtown across the water, and that's not really where Joseph is looking as he makes his way uphill, his pace slow and meandering. The long brown trenchcoat he's wearing is sopping wet around the hems, as are his jeans from the knees down, to say nothing of his shoes, which slide in damp grass and dirt.

The Lighthouse is the pinnacle he's climbing his way to, but he doesn't bother with the front door, barely even acknowledging the building itself as he moves around it, past the playground, and really only looks up from where his gaze trails the ground when he comes to a halt.

Oh, that makes more sense.

Arms coming out from around the defensive fold around around his torso, hands pocketing into his coat, the pastor hesitates before stepping on over towards Deckard, looking about as tired and worn around the edges as someone who has quit sleep should be. Dark circles, a brand of unkemptness that doesn't suit him. Joseph swallows, takes a breath, coming to stand nearby with his head canted to the side. "Flint?"

Flint. A long drawn breath steeps wide at Deckard's ribs at the sound of his name, his sluggish return to consciousness not so much reluctant as it is difficult. He's still tired, and his dreams have a tendency to be rather explicitly immersive in recent months. Case in point, when he gets an eye open enough to take note of the shadowy, long-coated figure standing just beyond the black of his glasses, he jolts into a rigid half-sit that doesn't make it all the way into a full sit because the hammock is already whipping around to deposit him bodily upon the ground.

It all happens in about the space of a second. In the span that follows, the twisted hammock continues to swing pleasantly on as if nothing has happened and a lonely gunmetal grey revolver tumbles belatedly from its coils to clatter into the dirt. Flint doesn't reach for it. He's busy flinging himself back up onto his feet at a stumbling, gimping backstep while his warm beer chugs the remainder of its contents out into sand.

By the time Joseph is thinking to step forward and help Deckard up— the older man has that covered, so Joseph hands retract, back straight and expression concerned in the dwindling light while the river-scented wind continues to curve up off the water, swings the hammock and makes clothes rustle in it. "Sorry," he says, voice halting, dark eyes angling downwards to study Deckard's legs, then up, up back to his eyes that he can't actually see through the black glass.

"You look— better." No comparison to what is offered up, Joseph briskly shaking his head and asking, carefully, "Are you okay?" His voice is raw in the way someone with a cold's might be, and all things considered in appearance and closed up demeanor, that could well be it.

A swift snap of Deckard's right hand serves the duel purpose of relieving him of his sunglasses and exposing the clear, vibrant blue of…accusation and resentment in his eyes. Not so much an ideal return greeting, especially in the face of apology. His legs look normal, at a glance. No obvious contortions or uneven lengths — just most of his weight settled over onto his right side and a shadow of a limp when he unsticks himself enough to stop glaring so he can stoop down for his spent beer and saturday night special.

"Must be the botox," gruffed out mostly at the dirt, he's stiff when he rights himself again, the hard lines around his rough-carved face having softened little for the poor state Joseph seems to have dedicated himself to being in. "I'm fine." He tips the nose of his revolver down; sand sifts quietly, pointedly out of the barrel. Sift. Sift. …Sift. A hint of a shake looses enough of the rest for Flint to be satisfied, and he squints blatently down the black of the muzzle before tucking it a holster at his back.

"You look like used toilet paper."

That gets a breathy bark of defeated laughter from Joseph, a hand up to rub his own forehead. "Flatterer." That hand goes down again, fixing and fidgeting with the collar of his shirt as his face neglects to communicate much more than weariness and some brand of anxiety that's not entirely for the other man, for once. "The first time— the first time I gave someone a vision. It was my wife, and I didn't mean to. She wasn't prepared, and all she saw was fire, and there was no calmin' her down, I'm sure you can imagine."

There's a distinct waver in his voice, as if tension were causing the usual smoothness to shake from being held too tightly. "Now all I'm seein' is water, and— other things. Water a lot, though. The men who took me over here were gonna leave me in it, I think. Can we go inside before it happens again? The seein', not…"

He runs out of words, and so stops speaking, just looks at Flint for an answer.

He can imagine, sure. Can and probably already has, if not quite so specifically.

"Is that why you spend all your time at church instead of fu — " Not happy to be awake, not happy to have fallen out of his hammock, not really all that happy to exist at all, Deckard still — can't quite make himself complete the question. A wrinkle at his nose assists in the trailing cutoff, annoyance at himself for going too far or not going far enough filtered into a tilt of his glass bottle that's just slow enough to be obnoxious. Beer choked thick with sand patters and plops out to its gradual end until even that excuse to keep standing outside awkwardly is gone. All that's left is for Flint to nod vague 'Go ahead,' acceptance in the direction of the Lighthouse proper.

He falls into hitched step in Joseph's wake, keeping pace without complaint to fling his bottle into a trash bin that sits next to one clearly marked for recycling. A satisfying shatter and tinkle follows them in through the back door and into the beanbag strewn living room beyond.

The unfinished question is left as such outside, as is the sharp, almost startled look Deckard gets from the pastor, although a weariness and a desire to be inside where they are walls and as many comfortable surfaces as there are sharp ones, overrides the need to. To. Probably punch someone in the mouth, but neither man is pushed that far. It would take more than trailed off words, maybe even more than completed ones. He makes for the Lighthouse.

Joseph takes off sodden shoes before he's inside, the brown leather gone near black with water, socks not much better but without tracking in mud and dirt, and the coat is also taken off in the usual rhythm of making oneself at home. "If it happens again— and it will, but— I'm sorry. It's the visions, they're runnin' backwards. In on me."

Any minute now, he suspects, but may as well tell the other man before it hits. "I haven't slept proper since Tuesday."

Oddly, Deckard stands and watches the shoe taking off process as if intent upon making sure that Joseph actually follows through with it. Almost like he cares, or has had muddy shoe rules forcibly drilled into his brain through his skull.

Or something.

He eases off a ways once it's taken care of, uneven footsteps taking him over to a turn into one of the longer couches the room is home to. Furniture aside, the place sounds blessedly, conveniently unoccupied through its lower levels, as it often has a tendency to be in scenes like this. Maybe they're all out for a big night at McDonalds, or maybe they're all locked into cages in Logan's basement. Whatever the case may be, Flint looks pretty non-plussed about their not being here, even going so far as to stretch further out along the couch while Sumter does away with his coat.

"The only thing I have here is weed. And — alcohol. Whiskey, beer, and half a bottle of tequila."

"I don't drink," Joseph reminds him, the usual Sandra Dee routine, eyes cast away now that Flint has settled down from his limping gait towards the couch. He stands awkwardly before finally moving towards the opposite couch, a hand going out to touch the arm before sitting down, not quite in front of Flint - diagonal wise, and certainly not inclined to take up the space, almost huddled there. "Or— smoke. And it's— "

A hesitation, hands clasping in his lap, Joseph attempting to be smarter with his words, as jumbled as they seem to be right now. "I got attacked, and that's when it started— an' it's not runnin' its course in any— "

Apparently not, breath hitching as eyes unfocus and stare more at the wall behind Flint's head than the man himself, Joseph's body going rigidly still. "In any— quick— " Words. Losing track of how many he's said, unable to hear them, the pastor quickly gives up and tries to relax, hands coming apart as one drifts up to rub his face, the other making a gesture designed to express one moment. A shudder runs through him, but otherwise, it's certainly not a show, trying to keep whatever it is he's seeing, whatever he feels towards what he's seeing, contained.

Joseph's diagonal choice of seating arrangements is taken in with a skeptical squint. No drinking, no smoking. Attacked, and that's when it started. Annoyance sketches into the lines across Deckard's forehead while he works his shirt buttons closed up almost to the collar, allowing awkward silence to settle where it will through — whatever it is that's happening. An episode, contained to that little corner of couch.

It's been harder to stare since people started staring back with more than just their eye sockets. A few furtive glances and some scowling later, he gets uneasy enough to force out a cranky, "Who sent you here? Abigail?" Safely assuming he's probably not going to get a timely answer while Joseph struggles to see through his original two eyes as opposed to the third one, he continues the conversation on his own a few seconds later, voice coarse and quiet. "I don't know if it works on brains. Abby's touched me plenty of times and I'm still a fucking mess."

One finger, two fingers, it's a cruel one at a time rhythm that a cleaver comes down to severe it from the outstretched hand, not his own, someone else's, or— maybe. It's hard to tell where he stands. Perception shifts, warps, he's not open to this, and so it's more nightmares than clarity as the cleaver comes down on the wrist itself to separate mangled hand from arm.

Which could be a mercy. Joseph is breathing through his nose, mouth only parting to take a breath when it's all over, hand shifting from his head so that he might dart a quick look to his palm. All fingers intact. That hand curls again, and finally brings himself to shift a look over towards Flint, not especially eager to see how unimpressed or uncaring he might be. His words come slowly, cautious, meeting bright blue eyes that at least aren't glowing at him.

"They said you have her gift now."

And if Joseph had heard what Flint had said during the fit, the visual seizure as Abby might describe it, he's not responding to it. He tries to relax back into the couch.

Joseph is looking at his hand, so. Flint looks too, blue eyes limited to registering the visible light that bounces off of and is absorbed by tangible human skin here in the present. Looks okay to him. So okay that he doubletakes, brows taking on a touch of flustered insecurity in their knit when he still fails to see anything of note. A sympathetic curl of his own right hand is simultaneously missed entirely; the sucking, grasping, linear pit at its center of no significance while Abigail's ability is directed outward. Or nowhere at all.

Argument and denial alike are choked out before they can manifest beyond a turn of his long face away, towards they door they came in through. He breathes out instead, failing to manage anything like sounds like a laugh in the exhalation. Uneasy tension wavers forth instead, prior confidence on the probable worthlessness of an attempt fishtailing in the face of Joseph actually being mentally present enough to be aware of it.

Silence was not entirely what he was expecting, even with the addition of sighs and non-laughter, the sway of a look away from him. Joseph lets it draw out for a moment, looking across at Flint and waiting until his gaze breaks to study the coffee table in between them. The hand on the couch lifts to scratch through windswept hair that's gone a little greasy in light of neglect. "I thought maybe it'd go away on its own. Abby— she was onto somethin' when she suggested I let it— " His hands curl inwards to indicate himself. "Just let it. It makes them easier but it doesn't make 'em go away."

Fabric shifts against fabric as Joseph inches more towards the center of the couch. "Whatever this is, I can't do it." The confession is made with something like relief rather than defeat, exactly. "I don't know what it's meant t'tell me. I— " An insecure pause, eyes narrowing. "Abigail wasn't mistaken, was she? I know she— her eyes don't glow."

"How's it taste? — You're own medicine, I mean." Clarification comes quickly on the heels of the initial question, which is in itself part of a recovery that is nothing short of swift. Deckard's already looking back across the table at Joseph, touching tenuously on the very edge of actual eye contact without ever really managing to lock it in. Resolve to act comes in the form of his left hand extended out over the table, fingers splayed in offer that's pointed to the point of curt evasion. The sooner they get this over with, the sooner they can stop touching and the sooner he can shove Joseph out to puzzle over God's Plan in the Hudson when he gets robbed and thrown overboard on the way back.

"Abby's more perceptive than people give her credit for." The way he says it makes it clear that it wasn't intended as a compliment. His eyes harden a little beneath the hood of his brow, further cementing his distaste over some unknown offense that Joseph probably actually does not directly have anything to do with. "Don't worry. I'm sure God's got it all figured out."

To say that Joseph only half came here for healing would be a lie. It's a good majority as to the reason he's here, stepping into 'Hell' as Abby had called it for reasons the pastor can only guess at. But whatever sliver of reason that existed in alternate to that has him hesitating for a split second—

Before his mouth goes into a line and Joseph has his hand reaching out to grip onto Deckard's. "It's not the same," he finally manages, eye contact avoided. And then strong fingers, rough from manual labour of years ago, clench tight around Deckard's hand, almost painfully so. Clinging unabashedly as a vision sweeps his concentration away. There's a slam as the heel of his palm, the hand not making marks on Deckard's, comes arcing down against the coffee table. Loud enough that it seems almost unlikely coming from Joseph, who otherwise tries to get through life as unobtrusively as possible. His fingers curl.

"God," the pastor curses, of all words, but hey, at least he can't hear it himself, eyes squinching shut before hidden by his free hand as he rubs his face and wills it away.

Deckard's hand is also rough, though the ridges and callouses there typically occupy territory involved in more specific and specialized pursuits. Writing, lifting and sorting through junk, pressing cartridges down into magazines. Lead and cigarettes have stained the padding yellow in places — less obvious in the left than in the right. He firms his grip because Joseph's is firm and…he doesn't want to be…outgripped. It's an automatic, impulsive tightening of bony tendon and wire-taut muscle that leads to…nothing. No warm fuzz, no easing of any lingering pain. Brows knit down at the effort Sumter's putting into proving his manly grip without actually realizing he's off in another world again, he's just started to open his mouth when there's a slam at the table, and the curse.

Predictably, Flint flinches away. A twinge of something more substantial ghosts across the link of their hands at the same time, warm as a brief show of the sun through cooller cloud cover before it's gone again and Deckard is sitting a little further away on his couch. He looks slightly worried. Like maybe he isn't entirely sure he is strong enough to wrench himself out of Joseph's grip in the time it would take him to come across the table and start swinging.

Silence, silence, and more silence while they sit there holding hands. Then:

"…Do you feel anything?"

His palm stings from connecting with unyielding wood, his other hand aches from where Flint is exchanging manly grip for manly grip, and there was a moment of warmth through his system like the fleeting peak of sun through cloud and then just— vision. Vision and more vision, the water again, dragging him face forwards this time, nothing baptismal about it, the river bed made up of white faces—

Joseph's head lifts, a deeper breath like coming up for air, brow furrowed, tense, and his hand loosens apologetically from Flint's, although doesn't quite let go. His other moves towards the back of his own head, fingertips weaving through dark strands of hair before he winces. Tender skin located.

Headache is still a crouching entity at the back of his skull, too. "No," he says, the word falling reluctant from his mouth, as if it were rude to criticise.

…Oh. Deckard's brows tip up into an awkward slant, almost resigned while he watches Joseph struggle with — nothing. Nothing that he can see or feel or hear or touch. The fuzzy lines around his mouth crease in a little darker around the beginnings of a frown while he stirs idly around inside his own head. Seconds pass. He blinks, slowly once, then a little harder.

"Me either."

So here they are holding hands, Deckard not looking at Joseph, Joseph feeling over the back of his head. A shaggy-looking kid passes down from stairwell to kitchen to stairwell again, staring all through the background as he goes. Flint doesn't look at him either.

"It worked before. I couldn't turn it off."

It's a strange thing, when a last resort— doesn't work. Joseph barely acknowledges the passing orphan, looking across at Deckard over their joined hands, consternation written into the angles of his eyebrows and the set of his jaw. "But it— " His other hand gestures vaguely. "It worked before. It can work again, you just…"

Well. Who is Joseph to teach someone how to use their ability, or tell them it's easy? Really? "I came here because I saw that you could help me," he says, and there's something in his voice that communicates— either he's uncertain about what he supposedly saw, considering the fluid nature of symbols and meaning, or he's lying.

This won't be the first time he's pleaded with someone. Maybe it'll be the one time it works. "Try?"

"I am trying." Asshole, is the unspoken tag that goes with that, cut over in a sharper look that can't help but drift into one more incredulous muddlement before he looks away again. He saw that he could help him? Who sees him specifically? Surely there are other people with similar abilities…. This line of thought is not helping him to concentrate. He shakes it off with a swallow and a dip at his brow. Try.

"You think this was some kind of ploy for me to get you in here so that we could hold hands? It's different." OKAY? It's different. In a lot of really significant — ways.

"Anything now?"

No. He knows before the words are even out of his mouth, hardened grip a poor disguise for the frustration flattening out the line of his mouth and cinching at crow's feet. More volatile anger is already bunching in the muscle beneath back and shoulders, hollowing harsh at his jaw when — there it is. A buzzing, irregular flicker that eases into a slow but steady transfer of visceral healing. Hard to imagine that the accompanying pleasant, creeping warmth's origin is the lean, long-faced crook across the table. Particularly not when he's staring at Joseph like he's trying to freeze him solid where he sits.

Sleep-deprived, frustrated and cranky, Joseph doesn't immediately offer an apology, free hand rising up in an open palmed salute of surrender. Okay. Gosh! The breaking desperation on his face is interrupted, at the very least, the silent irritation that replaces it somewhat better than— you know. A nervous break down. He rests an elbow against his knee, holding his chin in his hand and watches where his other is joined with Deckard's in a hold that even Joseph is going to declare awkward if something doesn't come of it.

But something does, even as Deckard thinks 'no' and the lines in his face say 'no' too. "Yyy. Yes."

He didn't know it would feel good. It's almost like drinking, but quicker, the release of warmth reminiscent of the second whiskey into the evening. Three day's worth of tension drains from the set of the pastor's shoulders, the stiff horizon beneath the button down giving away to relaxation, and his hand loosens its wooden grip around Deckard's palm.

Flint's cold stare across the table is met with a fleeting smile. "Stay mad," Joseph advises.

"Keep smiling and you'll think twice about the worth of that advice when we finish up and I rip your spine out through your asshole one vertibra at a time." Deckard can feel it too: the way everything in him seems to funnel gradually into Joseph's broken head. No warm fuzzies for him — more like pressing exhaustion and other extrasensory feedback that he'd rather not suffer — but he's familiar enough with the process to know what's draining the tension out of the other man's shoulders. He draws into himself, hunched tense against the impulse to pull back and let him heal the rest of the damage on his own.

But there is no such withdrawal. His eyes divert into an unhappy study of the opposite couch arm and he hangs on, scowling as hard as his narrow face will let him.

Well it works. But for Flint's sake, Joseph manages to stifle that smile, as much as he knows relief almost more palpable than the healing that works at the back of his skull, the splitted skin, the bruises, and deeper than that, headache finally dwindling away. His gaze shifts back to Flint, words on the tip of his tongue but second guessing them in the next moment.

He's the first one to let go, palm coming to rub against his pant leg where sweat had sprung up, warm and clammy, the last residue of his anxiety. Hand comes up to touch where the injury had been, before lowering. "That really is somethin'," he says, voice quiet and reverent.

"It isn't mine." Not the first time Deckard has said so. Probably won't be the last. Disinclined to linger, maybe even especially so with what he can hear in Joseph's voice, he pushes to his feet. The hand-swipe down the side of the leg gesture isn't completed until he's already made it a few paces, unconsciously polite in the instant before his rickety shape dips out of sight into the kitchen.

For a moment, it seems as though Deckard's got away entirely, no groan of couch springs immediately following or the pad of sock-feet on the ground after him. It's not a vision that takes Joseph, it's thought and— something indecipherable. Such as the feelings the accompany the notion that it's over and he took— well he has notepads and tapes full of symbols of the future and nothing more.

Or he thinks it's over. Maybe. Uncertainty is what makes him realise he's alone in the room, getting to his feet and trailing along after Flint. "It's yours for now," Joseph offers, coming to stand in the kitchen doorway, an arm coming up to rest against the frame. "Kinda like— safekeepin'. And you didn't have to use it. If it works, if they're gone… thank you." The words come as earnest as the way he'd spoken to him the first time Flint had forced his way into the church.

Flint's found his way over to the kitchen table, taking up his usual seat opposite the door when it's otherwise unoccupied and the light is out. Short of retreating all the way behind the locked door of the basement, there aren't many places to hide here that the kids haven't already discovered and made use of. He's collected a banana at some point between the open doorway and the table. If he ever eats anything other than bananas and fruit loops, what that is remains a mystery. FOR NOW.

In any case, the fruit rocks under his hand, unpeeled and uneaten. Joseph's presence in the doorway fails to inspire him to stop playing with his food. On the contrary, he concentrates on his banana even harder, as if it might escape if he makes himself look up or otherwise acknowledges that the pastor is lingering. "Probably only a matter of time before I even things out and screw you over somehow. There are empty beds upstairs and a shower in the basement if you want to stay the night."

Politeness tells him to leave the offer where it is and be on his way. The prospect of sleep within his immediate grasp overrides these sensibilities, and the hour at which he'd finally summoned up the courage to get out of his building and make the journey over—

"I'll be outta your hair first thing," Joseph says in something of a hurry, the words all spilling out in a sigh. "Just— accept the damn thanks, okay?" You tell 'im. Feel warm and fuzzy or so heaven help you, Flint Deckard.

An apologetic shrug undermines such conviction, and Joseph is disappearing from the doorway. Bypassing the offer of a shower in favour of finding said bed to crawl into and curl up for maybe twelve hours to the sounds of children running up and down the winding staircase, which is a hell of a lot easier to sleep through than hallucination, turns out.

"Brian's hair," corrected without much feeling, Deckard watches Joseph out without succumbing to acceptance, or to his banana. It's pushed carelessly aside to clear space enough for him to fold his arms into some semblance of a rest for his head.

In an hour or so he'll wake up to the sensation of one of the weirder kids pushing vitamins into his ear canal, but the basement's been too quiet anyway and for now the rest feels welcome.

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