You Can Take The Man Out Of The Church


deckard3_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title You Can Take The Man Out Of The Church
Synopsis But not the other way around. Or can you? Deckard kind of doubts it.
Date July 7, 2009

Greenwich Village — Joseph's Apartment

It's taken effort to get here. Effort to sober up enough to stand straight and brush his teeth without dribbling blue-white foam all down the bristle of his chin and the dusky grey of his Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt. Effort to scrub his hair clean and wash soot out of the hollows of his long face and to lift a brow at anyone else temporarily sharing the Men's Room who happened to look at him just a little too sideways.

But he made it here! And he looks and smells like a half-decent human being, eyes narrowed into a squint at the scrawled on scrap of paper he has in his left hand while he stands dumbly outside of an apartment door marked with the same number. At least…it looks like the same number. He turns the wrinkled paper over a little and adjusts the weight of the backpack on his shoulder, suddenly unsure. Is it a 6 or a 9? Or an 8? Christ, how drunk was he when he wrote it down?

Chill eyes turn briefly up to the ceiling, but it isn't any more telling than the carpet or the door itself. In the end he's forced to hedge his bets and risk a knock, bony knuckles accompanied by the faint slosh and turn of the whiskey bottle that moves with them.

For a short while, silence reigns supreme within the beige hallway of the not terribly fancy Greenwich Village apartment building. A far cry from certain Phoenix digs in the same neighbourhood, but clean, legitimate, and sort of cosy in the way summer really doesn't need to be. But eventually, there's the sound of foot steps approaching the door, a scrape of a lock, and the door opens freely. Drunkenness apparently wasn't so much so that he got the number wrong, as Joseph inevitably peers out, blinks, and opens the door wider.

No dog to be seen, although perhaps that black mountain of fur in the doorway beyond counts as the dog, sleeping soundly, and Joseph looks a bit like he should be doing the same. In jeans and a loose sweater, as opposed to the rigid angles that comes with pressed slacks, ironed button downs and tailored suit jackets. Attentive, though, and with reading glasses clasped in one hand.

"Hi," Joseph greets, after a pause and a second blink. "You okay?" It seems like a valid question, where Deckard is concerned, in any circumstance. He looks reasonably okay, at least.

Deckard is in jeans too — ones that he's probably been walking around in for a few days, now, if their slack fit and dark staining around the worn out cuffs is any indication. Inevitably, he smells a little. Deoderant and shampoo aren't quite enough to cover the stink of woodsmoke and hot metal and the unshowered staleness about him. But he does look reasonably okay, eyes clear and clean and upright when he refocuses on Joseph out of a brief scope of the apartment at his back.

"Fine," he says near automatically, brows lifted as if surprised that Joseph might have reason to think otherwise. Like he and Teo haven't made a habit of showing up bloodsoaked and half mad on the pastor's doorstep. Maybe that was some other Flint Deckard.

"I was in the area." In the area with a piece of paper with Joseph's apartment number on it. Cognizent of this, the older man hesitates a moment before dropping his hand to tuck it crinkily into his pocket in unsubtle fashion. "I brought booze."

Joseph is already back pedaling, letting the door swing wide so that the man feels inclined to step inside. It's about as tidy and orderly as can only be expected, as Joseph himself is reasonably tidy and orderly, and tries to make the rest of the world tidy and orderly as well, in more ways than one. Luckily, a small apartment offers such control.

A living room that shares the wider space with a kitchenette, and a table proves to be the only thing of clutter, open text books, a large King James Bible baring its words to the ceiling in the centre, pens and paper, and a half emptied mug of long-cooled coffee. Then the doorway, blocked by a sleeping bear, darkness beyond that, and Deckard might know it well enough, if hazily, when he went that route to stagger into the bathroom that one time. Otherwise, a lamp is lit to banish back the shadows of the living room, the kitchenette lit up with the overhead bulb beaming artificial brightness. Littered here and there, much like his office at the church, are personal items rather than simply functional or academic - framed photographs, mainly, ivory religious figures polished and propped up on higher shelves.

"You— oh." That's nice. Joseph's near black-eyed gaze drops down towards Flint's hand and the bottle itself, the pastor's shoulders slackening a little. "Come on in," he invites, regardless, a twist of a smile when he adds, "I don't drink, though."

There is nothing tidy or orderly about Deckard, save perhaps for his notes, which are buried in his backpack beneath some dirty clothes, tequila, and various other things Joseph would probably rather not realize he is welcoming into his apartment. His hair is mussed and the last time he bothered shaving was at least a week ago.

"Why not?" Not drinking is boring. And healthy or something. So even more boring for that. Content to make himself reasonably at home in an apartment he's really only been inside once, Flint meanders over to the table first. His right hand wastes no time in reaching around to jostle a pistol out of its holster at the small of his back, heavy and black and not at all the type of thing he should be casually dropping to rest amidst text books and bibles. AND YET. The whiskey follows it down, mainly so that he can have a free hand to lift the coffee mug with. All the better to sniff suspiciously at its contents. No drinking.

Thunk. That was a gun, onto his table. Joseph takes a deeper breath as he pushes the door closed with a sharp click. Locks it, too, before he's moving on over to remove, at least, the King James, putting its marker in place before closing the heavy, leather-faced book shut, concealing away the impossibly fine gold edged papers and tiny font, moving to place it somewhere outside of a Flint Deckard radius of defiance in the face of tidy and orderly. A furrowed brow glance is given to Deckard inspecting his coffee, but otherwise contents himself in tucking the Bible away.

"Drinking is a sin," Joseph states, words a little clipped, and because it's not entirely true, not according to his lexicon of Christian belief, anyway, he adds, "To excess. One drink is too many, a thousand's not enough." Well that can't be scripture, but it rolls off the tongue just as easily.

"Here— " The sound of a cupboard door opening acts as punctuation, a glass being sought out for the other man, offered out.

"No it isn't," Deckard is quick to counter, redoubling upon his coffee sniff after he might've caught a trace of…no. It's just coffee. Resigned, he sets the mug down so that he can take the offered glass instead, jaw tucked against his neck whilst he sets about the process of unscrewing the whiskey cap and pouring without spilling all over Joseph's crap.

The anti-alcohol mantra gets an over-the-shoulder look that nearly ends in a slosh over the glass rim, but Flint has poured drinks in a variety of settings and circumstances. His hand holds steady. There are no spills when he tips his head back down to focus.

"Even when you're here you're at church. Don't you ever go anywhere? Do anything? Buy a Tivo?"

Okay, it's not. Joseph doesn't counter, or rally with verses and arguments. Instead, he leans against the kitchen counter, hands braced back against it in absent posture, fingers drumming softly, and lets it pass by as Deckard allowed the slogan to pass by. Mute consternation follows at Flint's observation, before his mouth twists into half of a smile, equal parts bashful and wry. "That's because I'm a pastor even when I'm at home, too. There's a wake tomorrow after service," he offers, as his excuse, but the apartment wasn't really different the one time Deckard came by, either. "The Guiding Light's a lot of work. People expect.

"What do you do?" It's a flippant question, conversational in many ways, one that Joseph mostly forgets he avoids to ask, generally, when it comes to Flint. "Uh," is the belated attempt at taking it back, or dismissing it, excusing himself, but it's about as weak as his lack of argument as to whether alcohol is sinful.

Boy, there's a certain timeliness to that uh that tugs at the knot of muscle pent up at the back of Deckard's scruffy jaw, and where he was about finished pouring after a scant pair of fingers, he goes back in to top himself off almost as an afterthought. This is maybe going to fray at his nerves more than he had initially hoped.

"When I'm not slaying innocents or rolling around in the gutter, you mean?" HMM? There's that lift at his brows again when he sips, too annoyed to represent anything other than…annoyance. Try as they might to hide behind innocent inquiry. "Strip clubs, whore houses, hh…" he cuts off a little short, having apparently planned to follow those two up with something more normal to make his point only to realize belatedly that there really isn't anything anymore. The tilt of his brows changes then, more permissive. Fine. Still more fun than scribbling in holy texts.

Joseph's mouth tightens into an only slightly prissy line at Deckard's initial reply, choosingly letting his gaze slide away from the other man at that pointed topping up of alcohol, before he's moving in to— well. Tidy up a little more. Flipping notepads closed, shifting around books to make room, managing not to touch the pistol set down at all, at least not with his hands, anyway.

"What works for some doesn't work for everyone," he points out, somewhat cheerily. Working at extricating a newspaper article about Zoe Porter from underneath the gun placed down upon it without moving the weapon at all. Eventually, he picks up a notepad to absently nudged it away with the corner and win back the delicate clipping. "I'm happy, either way— and I'm sure you are too."

And that doesn't even sound insincere. "Sorry, do you want ice or anything?" And he steals back his inspected coffee cup, moving to tip the too-cold contents into the kitchen sink, running water to clean it out. "Some pizza in the fridge too."

Deckard's eyes cast blandly after the cleaning up process, the taste of whiskey over his tongue enough by itself to soften the lines fuzzed in hard around the flat of his mouth. Prissy is met in equal measure by pissy, who is fortunately fast in fleeting in and out of the brief bunch around a swallow at the base of his throat.

Being pleasant is rough.

"Ecstatic," elaborated on the subject of his own happiness, he puts no effort into the lie, even going so far as to sigh through his sinuses when he drags away from the table and out into the living area, glass in hand. "No room for ice."

As Deckard wanders to get settled, the apartment fills with mostly silence, the library kind of quiet that suits itself for study, writing, reading, exactly what Joseph had been doing. Of course, silence is subjective - waiting room, graveyard, library. Church, incidentally. At least now it's underscored by the sound of running water, things being put away, taken out, and Joseph follows Deckard not so long after. A glass of water in hand, substitutional, and there's no one around who could turn it into wine, no matter how hard he tries.

"I'm sorry," is the first thing Joseph states, flat honesty set down as he leans against the arm of a couch. "I didn't mean to pry, or— " Go uh. A rolling gesture of his hand attempts to fill in that gap, before clasping back around the glass. "I was curious, I guess. How's things over on Staten Island?"

'Brian's dead. So's my cat. Abby got shot, Teo's a sociopath and someone burned down the Lighthouse and half my stock in a flash of atomic hellfire,' Deckard doesn't say, a flat breath drawn in deep while he considers words and eventually lets the air woosh out of his system unspent so that he can have another sip of whiskey instead.

"Same old same old."

The lie comes more naturally than most, maybe because he had the entire walk over here to think it over. Also because it's kind of true, so far as the cycle of shit and shit and more shit that is his life over the last year is concerned.

There is a couch in the living room, so he slumps himself down into the far corner of it with all the ease and grace of a sack of dusty old firewood. "I'm fine. Everything's fine. How's church? I notice you now have more religious statuettes than my grandmother."

Easing himself down to sit opposite, hooking a leg beneath the other comfortably, Joseph taps his fingers against the side of the glass, gives a flicker of a smile. "Your surprise is palpable. Church is fine. Dodged a bullet, recently. The annual Baptist convention meeting several days ago didn't make mention about Evolved at all, not a word. Not that we have a big enough congregation to send any messengers or lend any voice to it, and all our expenses are bein' put to charity lately, so— as long as they're ducking and hiding from the issue, we have another year. Or longer."

'I' would probably be more accurate than 'we'. No doubt the Guiding Light can struggle on without him, and all. Joseph takes a long sip of water, and shrugs. "We also have a new benefactor, someone named Phoebe Thornton. No family, just money and a good heart, and it's up to me to figure a good place to put both."

Ssssuper. For all his effort to force himself into something that at least remotely resembles polite interest, Deckard finds himself looking sideways at a white figure that doesn't look like a woman or a dude while Joseph is still talking. Shemale or female? It is a question for the ages, and it's all he can do not to lean over, pick it up and turn it over. He sips his whiskey instead, brows knit speculatively at the rest of the setup. Maybe there are context clues.

Free hand traced idly up over the scruff roughed in around his jaw, it takes him a minute to realize that Joseph has paused long enough that it's probably time for him to say something. Hghh. At a loss as to what he was talking about beyond good hearts and maybe putting people and said hearts somewhere, his halcyon eyes strike a vivid blank until he ventures forth with an irrelevent, "So — you really never go anywhere?"

Aaand. Joseph raises a hand to rub at the bridge of his nose in concealed frustration, as if inwardly trying to fumble around for that switch that turns off the church talk and replaces it with Deckard talk, but it's not forthcoming, or maybe even in existence. The delicate figurines that Deckard is observing seem to yield nothing, all of them in flowing robes, and perhaps helpfully the one that Flint is observing doesn't have a beard, unlike the others. Might be all the indication he needs, all things considered.

"Does it bother you that much?" Joseph asks, raising an eyebrow, and a little aggravation leaking into his voice. Defense, too. "I have dinner sometimes with Pastor Ashby's family, I— it's not like— " Words stammer out, and it's hard to answer a question while trying not to at the same time. "I didn't come to this city to have fun," he finally settles on.

Maybe it's pre-pubescent. Or prefers a bald face. There are other possibilities, surely. Especially given the lack of easily discernable boobies. Curious.

Free hand still fixed in a hazy wrap around the stubble at his neck, Deckard detects frustration and annoyance with an air of apology or — more likely — resignation over his lack of headway in the direction of potential personal entertainment. Joseph is mad and he's not even being blasphemous. :(a

There is a pause, not exactly pregnant, though Deckard does do the thing where he opens his mouth slightly and then closes it again, actually taking the time to think better of whatever was going to fall out of it. "I didn't come here to get shot." Sometimes things happen on accident.

Okay, vaguely amusing. Defensive hackles go down a fraction, mostly in lieu of vague concern until it occurs to him that probably wasn't Deckard's point, to garner sympathy, and the corner of Joseph's mouth upturns into a faint, rueful smile. "That's not on my to do list either."

Takes a breath, lets it out slower, turning around the glass of water in his hand. "There's a donation drive tomorrow." A hand raises, as if to indicate no, he's not going to talk Deckard's ear off about church business, just hang on a sec'. "At St. John's. Apparently it's run by people who do more'n just give to the needy. They help them— real help, I mean, not just volunteer work, food for a week. I don't know. I think it's somethin' along the same lines as what Abigail was tellin' me about— I don't…"

If Joseph had a penny for every incomplete sentence he utters, he'd have ten churches. Dark eyes narrow across at Flint, focusing on him as he asks, "Would you know anythin' about that? I know you an' her— and with the Lighthouse, and all…" Two more pennies.

Deckard is already rolling his eyes when the hand goes up, the one he has at his neck slithering down to a rest at his shoulder, and then his lap. He needs more man friends. Actual man friends, who do things like go to titty bars and drink and have sex. Like…with women. As opposed to each other.

He tunes back in at mention of Abigail, eternally predictable in that regard. Fortunately, catching up again this time is easier, as Joseph is still talking. Talking about something he recognizes, for that matter. The blue of his eyes sharpens back into focus and his brows lift, surprised that Abby's been talking even though she really shouldn't be. As ever. "Depends."

Which is like a 'yes'. Faint surprise writes itself in Joseph's expression, gaze dropping for a moment, fingernail tapping once, twice against the curving side of the glass. "On who's asking?" he finishes, question hiking his tone up a fraction at the end, and leaves the prying there, looking across at Deckard with some expectation.

"Depends on…if we're thinking of the same thing," Deckard hazards carefully enough to insinuate that he's not 100 sure that they are. His eyes flicker aside for half a second, then fail to return once he's downed the rest of what's in his glass, backwash and all. "You're on the right track if so, paling around with confessed murderers and…" whatever Teo is. An asshole.

"Well," Joseph says, as if a skillfully placed well could wave away such notions. Of murderers, and his relationships with them. His gaze dips down towards the water in his hands, doesn't humour himself with taking a sip, not actually thirsty in the least. "You can't pick your friends, I think, even if you want to. You can't pick your beliefs, either. Hypothetically— if we're talkin' 'bout the same thing, what would I be walkin' into?"

"Terrible things happening to nice people for no reason. Knowing things you'd rather not know, seeing things you'd be better off not seeing. Ingrates, criminals and non-believers. More ruined carpeting." Wasn't Deckard a used car salesman once upon a time? He's doing a pretty shitty job of selling the Ferry now, left hand splayed open in a lazy, almost helpless 'use your imagination' type gesture while his right turns the glass easily over between long fingers. "They save people's lives. Helped save the world once."

For as out of practice as Deckard might be, that's not a bad conclusion. If bleak, if more cynical to Joseph's ears than it should be, if about as unheroic as heroics could be. Which could be more Joseph's error of perception than Deckard's point of view, or maybe even just— realism. All the same, the pastor, while not visibly convinced, listens. Raises an eyebrow at the notion of saving the world— "Like, what, the whole world?"— before letting out a breath of a chuckle.

"Sounds like you got some stories." And he does go on to take a reflexive sip of water, looks down at it. "I know someone who has a paintin' of the future, supposedly, or some such thing. An image of a flood. Can't say a boat wouldn't be a bad place to be."

A glance up, and he feels moved to reassure, dismissive, "It's a symbol, and nothin' more."

"Yeah." One of the side effects of being imprisoned, threatened, beaten up and tortured all the time is that you eventually develop a remarkably flat affect when it comes to this kind of stuff. If it weren't for the fact that it's no secret he's prone to spans of absent lucidity, that in itself might be telling. He curls his hand back in to scratch at his nose, one brow slanted up over the other. "The whole thing."

Cue up an inevitable awkward silence while Deckard looks Joseph over and rolls his glass around one more time, icy eyes eventually flickering off to the side once some kind of conclusion is reached and he starts to push to his feet. "You should probably tell whoever talked to you about bringing you in."

Joseph nods once in some agreement, rueful, acknowledging, before looking up as the other man goes to stand. Sets aside his own glass, does the same, hands damp from some condencion and summarily wiped on the sides of his jeans. "Look— I guess that's my way of pointin' out to you that it's not so true. About me bein' at church even when I'm at home. Half the time I don't know if I'm at church when I'm at church."

A smile is offered, somewhat shy, already fading. "Every so often it's nice to be woken up. I've been— doing more've the same for a long time."

Deckard's height lends him an unexpected edge in the way of weathered, condescending looks of disbelief. Maybe even especially at a distance. Church people like church. He doesn't have to do more than glance sideways at the figurines and the displaced Bible to apply what he takes for a constant truth to Joseph. Mostly on account of the fact that he's an asshole.

Still. STILL. That last line or two hits a little closer to home, and he grants Joe a vague nod of allowance before he moves for the kitchen to dispose of his glass and recollect his firearm.

Okay yes. There's more than two Bibles in his kitchen and figurines on his shelves and a tiny golden crucifix hanging on a thin chain and hidden beneath his sweater, and Joseph doesn't do it all the disservice of dismissing it, of shrugging away the look he gets. Faith is faith. Beliefs are different. His folds his arms around himself as Flint goes about collecting his things.

Then, a quiet chuckle. "The more you get talked at, the more you go silent." A sigh eases out. Okay then. Joseph moves back in towards the kitchen, to retrieve the Bible he'd put away. "Have a good evening, Flint."

"According to one of the magazines in your office, women like good listeners," is all Deckard has to say for that, turned shoulders a stoic blank while he checks the safety and reaches around to hook the gun up under the tail of his t-shirt. The shape of it isn't invisible once it's in place, but the blunt of the pistol is the kind of thing you'd have to be looking for to see.

"If you decide to play along and need a gun, I can get you a deal. Otherwise don't forget to tell whoever about the flood — thing. And don't ask Abigail any questions unless you really want to reach back to the 'more than you wanted to know' thing." It's like homework. Except distracted and disjointed and only half helpful in the big scheme of things. "You too."

Need a gun. Joseph doesn't respond, to that, a shadow of disapproval in his expression but— saving the world might just need a little help, sure. He can believe that. He finds himself nodding. Okay. He'd gone to shooting ranges once or twice. Here is to hoping that the world is being plagued by big wide open targets that don't move.

Most homework is distracted and disjointed and only half helpful in the big scheme of things, anyway. "Thanks," Joseph says, presently, a flicker of a brighter smile along with it. "I'll see you around."

"Don't mention it." Like. Seriously. Don't. So says the flat look that accompanies the imperative while Deckard straightens out the back of his shirt and starts for the door, presumably to let himself out. "I have porn too. In case you ever get tired of having to use your imagination with all these little Jesus people watching —"

Ghdsfsjfhds— "Flint." No defense is made on behalf of the 'Jesus people' or, god forbid, the effectiveness of his imagination - just an exasperated sigh from Joseph along with a sweeping hand gesture. Go, goodbye, thank you.

Going, going. Deckard is going, too lazy to bother hiding a ghost of a leer on his way out the door. Byyyyye~ jesus people. And Joseph.

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