What Separates Us And Them


elisabeth_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title What Separates Us And Them
Synopsis Sometimes the only difference really is that you try to take the high road.
Date Nov 5, 2009

Nite Owl

It's as good a place as any for a meeting, and apparently the coffee is as sound as the food. The latter of which Joseph hasn't ordered, and the former of which he's barely touched. Coffee cools to lukewarm on the table in front of him as he waits, his mind elsewhere. Likely somewhere below the ground.

A brown jacket with a woolen collar is draped over the back of his seat, shirt crisp and tidy and tucked into blue denim, brown shoes flat against the checkered floor and elbows on the table, chin resting in his palm as seconds tick by the on the brown strapped watch around his wrist. Wedding ring is forever a constant feature, looking dull from a lack of polish beneath the diner lights, and really, everyone could use more sleep.

The phone call was a bit of a surprise, though Elisabeth didn't hesitate to respond to the summons. As she steps into the diner, the blonde is dressed in casual gear — jeans, a leather jacket to hide the shoulder rig she goes nowhere without these days, her hair pulled up into a ponytail. There's some amount of strain in her features, worry over what's sent the good pastor in her direction. She glances toward the counter and jerks her chin toward the waitress in greeting, with a brief negative shake of her head to indicate she doesn't need anything yet. She heads directly for Joseph's booth and slides in. "Fa-Pastor Joseph. Is everything all right?"

When Joseph snaps out of his reverie upon Elisabeth's arrival, there's a vague look of nervousness that manages to smooth out into neutrality, before he offers a smile and sits up, elbows off the table and a hand coming to curl around his coffee mug. He tilts it a little to inspect what's left of the beverage, sets it back down. "Everythin' will be, I hope," he says, sitting back a little. "Just 'Joseph', is alright. Look—

"I ain't entirely sure how to go about this, but I wanted to talk to you about Emile Danko. You've heard, by now?" Uncertainty is written into his tone, having been rather vague and quickly worded on the phone with the woman sitting opposite.

Elisabeth goes very still across from him, and she glances up as the waitress makes eye contact. Another quick shake of her head and a quick hand signal that they'll need a minute, and she puts a privacy bubble around the table. The owners of the place have sort of come to be used to that by now, with as often as she was in here for a while. "Yeah. I heard the Ferry was sitting on the fucker. What about him?" Her jaw clenches tightly.

The sudden silence doesn't cause Joseph to bat an eye, although there's the minute response of tension in the set of his shoulders and expression only a cop could note. It eases some as he takes a quick sip of coffee, winces a little, and sets it aside. When he speaks, it's quietly, despite the privacy Elisabeth has granted their table. "That we are. And now there's talk about what on earth we're to do with him. Should be simple, probably, but he's messed with the Ferrymen enough that some've got stronger opinions than others. Some would see him dead. What I want to know from you is whether we could hand 'im to the law."

There is a moment … almost like feeling the pressure wave of a thunderstorm as it rolls in. It's not big, there's no flashy effect. Not even a ruffle of the napkin. It's.. having your ears pop in an airplane, sort of. And then it's gone. "It's not simple," Elisabeth says quietly. "He's … " Wow. Yeah. The emotions behind Emile Danko are anything but simple. Blowing out a breath, though, Elisabeth says quietly, "Yes. You could easily turn him over to the NYPD or the Feds. There are active warrants out for his arrest for a number of charges including agg assault and battery against yourself, Agent Ivanov, and Tracy Strauss, attempted murder of Ms. Strauss, and arson. And Ms. Strauss is an unimpeachable witness against him…. unlike yourself. Since I'm assuming here that you've probably been to see the man, thereby negating any use you yourself might have as a witness on the stand." It's not really a question. She's pretty sure she wouldn't have been able to resist the impulse to confront Danko personally, but maybe the Pastor is a better person than she.

Within the deafened sphere, Joseph is silent for several moments, watching the space of table between them before dragging that gaze up to meet her eyes, mouth twisting into a half-smile. "Yeah, you're not wrong about that. I'll take a leap of faith and trust and let you know that I was among those that brought him in. Me and two others. So no, I don't suspect my role would go any further'n deliverin' him to the hands of the police." So much for being a better person. At least he did ask her to drop the Pastor title.

Elisabeth reaches across and touches his arm. It requires … sort of a leap of faith on her part. She used to be far more willing to touch. "Don't beat yourself up over it," she advises gently. "His lawyer's going to have a field day with that intel. So…. you want to turn him over to the cops. If you want the charges to stick…. I can give you the names of a couple of trustworthy cops if you want them. You can let Agent Ivanov take the credit. Or I can give you the name of a Homeland Security agent who is also working on this case. You let me know which route you want to go." She shrugs a little. "I have no doubt that his lawyer would find some way to get him off on a technicality if I do the arresting… considering he blew the back of my head off and left me for dead in the harbor."

His smile turns less bitter as she makes that gesture, though it's nothing Joseph returns - instead, he does her the respect of listening attentively, brows knit together in thought. Gratitude seems to eclipse tension as she goes on, although stops short at her last several words, blinking twice. "I… I'm sorry, I didn't really know the specifics about what happened to you, detective," he says, a little slowly. A beat, and then Joseph lets out a small, incredulous sigh, eyes rolling to glance at the ceiling. "An' here I am talkin' to you about this. That's thoughtless of me, I'm sorry. I don't even know what you'd see done to him."

Shaking her head, Elisabeth replies quietly, "It's not thoughtless. It's not exactly something I advertise. Not like I could report what happened and add that to the list of charges without giving away what I was doing when he picked me up." She smiles just a little. "I'm glad I'm not the only one tempted to kill the bastard… but I've already faced that demon." If she couldn't kill Doug, she doubts she can kill Danko in cold blood either. Although she's not nearly as terrified of Danko, admittedly. He wasn't her tormenter. "If you want to let the system work, you convince them to go for it. If his body turns up somewhere…. well, let's just say I'm not going to look too hard."

"I don't want to see him dead," Joseph mutters, rueful, wearily, chin coming to rest back into his palm. "And others'll say that makes me a coward or chalk it up to my beliefs, tryin' to will them on the Ferry, and that it ain't practical. 's why I wanted to talk to you," and he lifts his chin up from his hand to address her properly. "Reliable names to go to would be real appreciated, thank you. Some've the concern was about trust on the other side, an' if I can get that squared away— "

He lets go of another sigh, and shrugs. "There's talk about — holding a trial for him. Among the Ferry, and affiliated. They want to let him speak, and go from there. I think he's gonna get himself killed and I'll have helped by dragging him in." Slightly more optimistically, he adds, "I'll work on it. Convincing them. This whole thing's gonna turn me grey, I'll tell you."

Blue eyes watch the minister with a pensive expression and Elisabeth says softly, "Considering the fact that he attacked a safehouse that contained innocents and children and people died… I'm not sure you're going to get very far, Joseph." Her tone holds a wealth of regret, guilt. She confesses softly, "And I don't know if I'm the right person to handle this for you, which is why if you want the name of honest cops, I'll give them. But that's as far as I can go. He deserves whatever punishment they mete out."

"I can't say I don't think he wouldn't deserve it," Joseph says, meeting her look across the table squarely. "But the Ferry deserves better than this. We're better people than Humanis First, and if there's a shot at dealing with him that means we don't have blood on our hands, then we should take it. And whatever retribution Danko'll get for his sins will occur sooner or later, in this life or the next one over. We don't have to condemn ourselves along with 'im."

His tone peters down into something quieter as he brushes upon his beliefs, and tilts his head apologetically. "I know not many'll listen. But after everythin' he did to me, after everything I've seen of him— I was there, at Beach Street— and I'm sayin' this… I can't be the only voice."

There is a flinch at the street's name and Elisabeth looks away for a long moment. That is a guilt that she will never, ever be able to get off her conscience. "You're right. It would make the Ferry no better than they are. If you need anything more from me, you know how to find me. I'll get you the names of the cops and the Homeland agent's name is Len Denton." Elisabeth looks back at him and says softly, "I couldn't kill the man who spent days tormenting me, either." There's a shimmer of tears. "So believe me when I tell you… I do get it. It's one thing to be a soldier or a supporter of the Ferry. It's something different when it's revenge. I hope that you get enough people to take the high road with you, Joseph. I'll do whatever you need."

There's a subtle bridling, from Joseph, as she extends her sympathy - the literal interpretation, the kind that speaks more of understanding than of compassion, though it's difficult to detangle the two. He glances into neglected coffee he's not going to endeavor to drink, fidgeting in the form of pushing it to one side with some restlessness, fingers hooking into its porcelain handle. There had been a nod in place of verbal thanks at that name, and now he is less quick to reply.

He does, after a moment, looking back up at her, catching there when he notes the subtle glimmer of tears. Guilt weighs his shoulders down and his hand— doesn't quite reach out to touch her, just settles towards the center of the table, palm down against the cool surface of the table. "Me too. And thank you. For the names, and saying I'm right," he admits, with a twist of a smile that's quick to fade.

Elisabeth snorts softly under her breath and glances toward the door of the diner. "For all the damn good being right's going to do you." Her faint smile is rueful. "Ah, man, Joseph…. how the hell'd we get ourselves here?" She looks back at him once more and asks softly, "How're you holding up?"

The rhetorical question isn't answered, though Joseph's half-smile turns into a fuller one, if just as rueful as the woman's opposite him. The hand retracts, arms folding comfortably against the edge of the table and glancing out the window. Rain threatens to come down, spitting in needle-thin stops and starts. "I'm alright," is a more or less automatic response, before he shrugs and states, "Well, some days I think maybe I'm changing, not for the better. Being right's important enough in that it means maybe I'm not losing my mind entirely. I've made some poor decisions since gettin' out of there and I can't think properly while I know Danko ain't yet squared away. But all things considered… I'm alright."

There is a wealth of compassion in those crystalline eyes as she looks on him. Elisabeth nods slightly. "Yeah." She knows exactly where he's coming from, though Doug was her personal demon — Danko just put the bullet in her brain. "I'm told … by people who know and professionals… that it gets better. That there will eventually be whole hours when you don't think about it. When it doesn't inform every choice you make, every action you take. Haven't gotten there myself yet," she admits, her fingers reaching for a sugar packet to play with.

"Time heals," Joseph suggests, the lines at his eyes deepening a little in the suggestion of a smile, watching more her fidgeting fingers than her expression. "And maybe it'll get better when he's outta the basement. If all of this can be forgotten, if he can go away somewhere and be forgotten." He takes a breath, and then in plain words, almost practiced, he adds, "While I was there, they dosed me with Refrain a few times. Enough times. Wasn't really— it was an afterthought to them. But it became the best thing I had down there, and then it became the best thing I had afterwards. I really — hate him, for that."

His hands come together, fingers tangling, resting his chin against them although it's far from prayer as he continues to study the table. "And the church burning, and that they intended all along to let me go. I can't — you know, I don't know if I've really taken stock of it all yet. Not sure I could."

Her lips compress a bit as she listens, and Elisabeth's nod is slow. Blowing out a breath, she comments quietly, "I was trained as a hostage negotiator. Intellectually I can tell you that it takes months… years, even… to come to terms with being held hostage. If torture was involved — be it by Refrain or what they did to Ivanov and me — it's more complex. Just when you think you're doing fine, it will hit you again and you'll be right back there." She sounds like she speaks from experience here. "When that happens… if you need to talk, Joseph, you have my number. I know we're not… friends. But I'll listen."

That gains a small breath of laughter. "I have quite a few not-friends in this city," Joseph says, and it's not disparaging. Simpler than that, amusement, at the lines drawn between friends and allies and comrades. Amusement being better than going mute and still at the idea of what he's been warned against before — the coming crash.

"And a few offers to talk," he adds, less facetious, leaning back in his seat. "Not the easiest thing in the world, but it's appreciated. You've been a wonderful help as long as I've known you."

Which isn't long, knowledge nodded to with a quirk of a smile, fleeting.

Elisabeth shrugs slightly without meeting his eyes, perhaps a little embarrassed at the compliment. She doesn't feel like much help. She turns the sugar packet over and over in her hands, and when she looks up again the corners of her eyes crinkle in an almost-smile. "It's the least I can do?"

"As much as you can do," Joseph corrects, swiftly, and kindly, being his hope. He rests his hands against the edge of the table, and levers himself up to stand. "And maybe when all this is over," and he means that more in the sense of logistics and facts, because as Elisabeth has already pointed out, it being over will take much longer, "I'll be of some help to you someday. As a pastor and a Ferryman, I'd hope so."

Now she chuckles quietly. Elisabeth moves to stand with him, her reply wistful. "If you're serious, I have one request. That someday you can offer a glimpse of a future that's not …. ugly. Dying has put a few things into perspective lately. And it'd be real nice to be able to have real hope." She shrugs. "Considering the way things look now, though… I'm not holding my breath," she adds drily. Pulling a small pad of paper from her jacket with a pen, she scribbles several names on the paper and hands them the sheet to Joseph. "Here." NYPD: Leland Daubrey, Chris Nash, Kaydence Damaris, Ezra Grimes. Homeland: Len Denton.

Joseph stands patiently as she writes, pulling his jacket back on, and readily accepts the piece of paper once it's offered out. "Thank you," he says, looking towards her to make sure sincerity is communicated, before it's folded over and slipped into a pocket. "And I hope I can do that for you." Not now, is in his tone, and likely not expected in this particular trade with her discourse of 'someday'. While the more physical forms of demons aren't yet exorcised, it probably wouldn't be worth it.

"Take care of yourself," he offers instead, hands slipping into his pockets with fingers curling around the list of names given. With that, he heads for the door, pausing only to lever it open and allow her out onto the dreary street. Ladies first.

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