Waystation

June 30, 2018:

Vivienne comes across Tom Judge and offers him a temporary port in the storm.

New York, East Side, later, Vivienne's Loft, Tribeca

An artists's loft, re-purposed for more martial trade.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Robert Berresford

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

In the distance, the wail of sirens can be heard, the skyline darkened and the scent of smoke hanging in the air. Earlier in the evening, Hell's Kitchen became, well, hell — the newscasts full of reports of multiple explosions and the mini-tragedies unfolding from that.

Some ten-odd blocks away, things are relatively quiet by comparison. There's a subdued mood to the people passing by, most hurrying quickly, the streets perhaps less occupied than usual. The light and sound from a bar spills out onto the sidewalk as its door opens, and a familiar thin figure goes literally flying out and onto the sidewalk with a grunt.

"If I see you back in here—!" the growled threat from the bulky bouncer is a not unfamiliar complaint to one Tom Judge. Still, there's dignities to uphold, and… ah, what the hell. He sways in the gutter a bit, laughing, oddly, which quickly turns into a hacking cough. He's clearly drunk, and more than that, his clothing is covered in soot, he smells like smoke and… it looks like something burned a hole through his jacket, the skin beneath visible though apparently unharmed.

-

It would seem that Vivienne either missed the majority of the action that was going down in Hell's Kitchen, or was purposefully routed around it. Regardless, she seems to have had a night of her own, her armor, the more subdued kind, rather than the SCA style seeming a bit ragged. At least what can be seen of it under the long trench she's wearing. And it's probably no coincidence that she just happens to be turning the corner as she catches sight of a more than familiar figure being tossed out into the gutter. Which, is probably where she seems to find Tom Judge the most often. Still, the expression of relief on her face as she heads in his direction is clear. He's alive. Possibly not well, but alive. She doesn't bother with a witty quip. Mostly likely, like a bad penny, he'd probably just think she kept turning up. Instead, as she moves to approach, he offers a hand to help him up. "Evening, Tom."

-

Breath rattling obviously in his throat as he coughs, it takes Tom several moments to catch his breath, settling back onto his knees before he blearily looks upward and finally recognizes the voice addressing him. It makes him laugh again — which of course, sets off another round of rattling coughing.

"Fuck," he rumbles, when he can finally breathe again, his voice sounding throaty. "Just my luck." Still, he takes that offered hand, and not just as some show of good faith, genuinely needing her support to get his swaying, unsteady figure upright and on his own two feet. "Look, whatever you heard, that demon in Hell's Kitchen was not my fault." One gets the feeling he says this often enough that even he doesn't sound like he really believes it.

-

"Yes, all bad, I'm sure that you'd say." Vivienne sets her feet, holding herself steady while he picks himself up, offering as much support as he needs. She doesn't judge, her expression more concern than condemnation. Her tone, not quite a mused, but, perhaps bemused would be the better choice of words, "Tom, I never thought you were responsible. I've never had cause to believe that any of the things that have crawled out of hell since I've been in the city have been, strictly speaking been your fault." She considers, before she continues, "I can offer you a bath, or coffee? Which would you like first?"

-

Tom gives a hearty, self-deprecating laugh. "Well, that's far more fucking optimistic than I would've imagined. Not even I give myself that much credit." Especially when the majority of said demons come straight for him — or more accurately the thing around his neck, the silver gleaming brightly as ever as the Rapture swings from his neck while he sways a moment.

"A drink," he says immediately, even if that's neither of the options she's offered. "Maybe a bath," he adds, as an afterthought, as he gives another rattling cough, leaning against a lamppost for the duration thereof.

-

"I don't think of it as optimistic. The fact that the item that you possess brings them towards you is not the same thing as what you are suggesting. I would venture to say that the very fact that you have not cast it aside, but rather, chosen to be the one who protects it, and as a result faces those demons speaks volumes." She waits, as patient as ever, maddening, really, until he's ready to go. I'm not far from here. You'll be safe, for a few hours at least." She'll wait for him to join her, before she does what she can to get him off the streets.

-

His hand still resting against the lamppost, head half hanging down, Tom Judge gives Vivienne a sidelong look, faint amusement glimmering from his gaze for a moment. "You say to-ma-toh," he sing-songs for a moment, but doesn't follow through. Neither does he seem overly convinced by the Magdalena's point of view. Either way, though, he'll finally push away from the post and, somewhat unevenly, stagger along beside her until he hits his stride, half loping, half slumped.

-

Vivienne was at least being honest about that. It isn't a long walk, from where she found the man to the building where, for all intents and purposes, she's set up her base of operations. She seems content to allow him to set the pace, slowing or stopping as he might need to keep himself upright. "Don't worry, I won't make you work the stairs." Instead, if he follows her in, he'll find one of those industrial style elevators with the door that lifts up vertically, in the converted warehouse that holds the floor she's set up for her own use. "If you need a lie down, I've got a nice big mat." There's humour there, as she allow him to step in ahead of her.

-

It's definitely on the slower side of things, though not deliberately — it's obvious Tom's been drinking away what was, for sure, a pretty terrible evening all around — and that rattling cough requires him to stop more than once. The mention of a mat earns a baffled look, and when she lets him step in ahead of her there's something wary in his demeanor, even as drunk as he may be — sharpening his gaze somewhat from his stupor. His gaze sweeps with with a dull interest across the interior, at least until he finds the bathroom — and then he makes a beeline for that without another word.

-

Having brought him as far as it was possible for her to do, Vivienne leaves him to his own devices, as she slips off her coat, tossing it over one of the pub chairs close to the kitchen, before she sets to work. One the one hand, looking through a small liquor cabinet for something that he might find suitable. And also starting a pot of coffee. In the end, she leaves the pot brewing and the cabinet open, and heads for the closet to try to find something in the changes of clothes her handler keeps in stock which might fit Tom.

-

The noises from the bathroom aren't pleasant, really. Aside from the rattling cough that echoes in her bathroom, he's definitely bringing up the contents of his stomach at least once, before the shower finally comes on.

Fact: Tom Judge is a shower-hog. His hair isn't long enough to justify that time in the shower, so it's possible he maybe fell asleep or something, but eventually he emerges, skin still steaming, wrapped only in a towel. His body is markedly thin, lined with scars, only some of which could be caused by recognizable weapons. His gaze seems a lot more focused now, taking his time in regarding her home with a lot more interest, now. This time, it's neither the clean clothes nor the coffee, but almost inevitably that splash of liqueur that draws him over, downing the contents of the glass in one shot. "Surprised you keep alcohol at all," he finally says, "Or is this for the strays you bring home?" with his familiar, sarcastic lilt.

-

By the time Tom emerges from the bath, and surely, she must pay a premium for that much hot water, the coffee is brewed, a cup's been poured for herself, and she's set out his change of clothes on the top of the clean table in the armory. She's changed herself, to a pair of loose linen pants and a long-sleeved tunic. The comment, breaking the silence after he took in the living space lifts her eyes from where she's pulling out what looks like a shed clawtip from the armor she was wearing, taking him in, before she glances back down to her work, "Why would that surprise you? A stiff drink can work wonders when you're had a day."

-

"You don't seem the type," is all Tom says, not a shred of hesitation as he splashes some more liquid into the glass, before wandering over to where she's set the clean clothes. He sets down his glass, lets the towel drop like he's alone, and pulls on the clothes with a grimace. It's not his usual style, by far. The grimace turns into another coughing fit, and he leans there for a few moments more. The Rapture, as usual, hangs loosely from its chain on top of the tunic, like he prefers to have it separated from his skin. He does, at least, hoist the wet towel over his shoulder and pick up his glass before he saunters back her way.

-

"But you don't know my type, Tom. You seem to have made a number of assumptions based on what I do, and what I carry. Much, as I suspect, people have done to you." Vivienne finally managed to wiggle the clawtip free, dropping it into a plastic specimen jar, before she sets to work repairing the tear in the suit. There's a sound that almost sounds like amusement, as she sees Tom drop trou, literally, but her gaze doesn't linger, as she turns to retrieve her coffee. "You've got a few inches on the man those clothes belong to, so I had to go with something that wouldn't make you look like you'd just come out the other side of puberty." Which is the same sort of comfortable, forgiving, post workout clothes she's wearing herself. Although, given the size of them, what the man who usually wears those clothes loses in height to Tom Judge, he makes up for in size, probably at least a size up and then some, from the slender ex-priest. "I'll get your things in the wash." Which she moves to do, leaving him to putter around as he likes.

-

"On the contrary; I know many of your type. I was one of your type, once." A grimace accompanies the words. Restlessness seems to mark Tom's frame despite his obvious weaknesses, pacing around the living area before finally sprawling onto the couch. He's lifting the glass to his lips when she moves to her feet, the words earning a furrow of brow.

She's doing his laundry. He should protest. It'd be the gentlemanly thing to do. But he doesn't, because, well — he's him. Instead, while she sees to his clothes, he pushes up and noses around her things, anything of a personal nature attracting particular attention and regard.

-

"No, I don't think you do, Tom, or did. You assume that because I have faith that I must hold specific beliefs, or act in a certain way, and I think you'd find that that isn't the case, if you were ever inclined to ask, and not assume. You assume that because I work with the Church, that I must surely be their lapdog, incapable of seeing their faults and failings, no doubt." Vivienne's voice is entirely conversational as she goes through the task of gathering his clothes, turning out his pocket, piling up everything she finds on top of the washer, if anything, and setting the cycle running.

Vivienne is somewhere oddly placed between militant and high fashion. Most of her clothes appear to be utilitarian, or some form of clothing to see to her duties. But she's also terribly French, if the assortment of frilly items, designer pieces, and lingerie, not to mention the pairs of much too high heels are any indication. She does not, however, have anything which might be considered family heirlooms, pictures or the like, but that seems entirely fitting, having been raised in the Church with no knowledge of her parentage.

-

"No. I assume because despite evidence to the contrary, you still stubbornly persist in believing it all," Tom says, with what might have been aimed to be airy sensibility but is ruined, in part, by the fact that he's wearing too-big-clothes, like a boy who hasn't yet grown into things yet. Also: he's drunk, still. And drinking.

There's not much to be found in his coat pockets. A few crumpled dollar bills, a receipt from Starbucks on the back of which appears to be a phone number, keys, and a torn, dusty version of a business card with 'JUDGE INC' on it that's seen better days.

Tom, meanwhile, lingers over her things, looking particularly amused (and maybe spending more time than is needed) assessing the color and number of frilly things she keeps in her drawers.

-

"And I have had my own evidence of the power of my own belief. I cannot and will not judge the faith of others. But I have not, yet, known my own to be misplaced. Should that day come, I have no doubt that I will have to reevaluate. Much as you did, or so I gather." Vivienne claims the pile of goods she rescued from Tom's pockets, moving to put it down on the breakfast high able not far from where he's drinking, before she returns to her work and her coffee. "have you managed to secure yourself any work, at your detective agency?"

-

Tom's eyes narrow briefly, not at her mention of faith — indeed, he seems to be studiously ignoring that particular comment — but at her latter question about his work. "Here and there," he says, sounding guarded. His glass is empty but he doesn't move to refill it, instead slouching back onto the couch, a brief cough suppressed from something more virulent after a deep breath. "Your friend keeping you busy looking for the Geologist and the Codex?" close enough.

-

"That's a sign towards the positive. If I happen to find any potential clients for you, I'll try to send them your way." her tone seems, and is, entirely conversation, the sort of thing normal people do, talking about work and the other mundane aspects of their lives. A glance up, as she sees him walk back out of her closet, swiveling the stool she's sitting on so that she can face him a bit more directly. "No, actually, we haven't had much movement on that front. Robert's been off, well, to be honest, I'm not certain where. But there seem to be a few elements in motion that, for the time being, seem to be a bit more worrying. Including a being whom, I am told, is the literal mother of all demons, Lilith."

-

"Why?" Tom asks, blandly, watching her through the glass he lifts to hold in front of him. Why would she help him, seems to be the implication.

At her mention of a mother of demons, he lowers the glass — just in time to prevent spilling the contents as another coughing fit overtakes him for a minute or so. His breath is somewhat ragged when he finally says, "Oh, great. Sounds like fun. I suppose I'm going to have to kill her, too." The words are jovial, even if his expression is anything but.

-

"Why wouldn't I? You need to work, the same as I do, though, do try not to send too many demons my way." A curve of her lips, acknowledgment that even her 'day job' is far less mundane than his. "I have been told that she is out and about. I have not, as of yet, encountered her, though I am told she had set a number of her children loose in the city. Certainly, there seems to be an increase in demonic activity. Thankfully, there seem to be a few people gathering to pool their resources."

-

"Yes, I suppose I don't have quite the same backing you do," Tom says, dryly, gesturing towards the loft-as-a-whole. She's seem his dump of a place, absolutely no comparison to hers. His fingers stay curved around his glass, though he doesn't drink — maybe a sign of the fact that he's wholly invested in the conversation to hand. Maybe even worried? Hard to say under the languid sprawl of the ex-priest's posture. "Any idea exactly what she wants?" Besides the thing they all want, he seems to mean, given his other hand unconsciously presses against the silver artifact hanging from his neck for a moment as if to reassure himself of its presence.

-

"No, I would say not, but then, I have learned not to take it for granted. I am well aware that their favour can turn in an instant." Vivienne finally completes the repair to her armor, sliding off of the stool to retrieve her coffee cup, carrying it over to the pot for a refresh. "From what little anyone has been able to gather, it seems to be the classic Pinky and the Brain scenario." Namely, trying to take over the world.

-

He stares at her with a frown for a moment, clearly not comprehending the reference. What he does get is that he doesn't seem to be the focus, and that's enough for the ex-priest, at least. "You know, I'd love to know what would happen if you got one of the Angelus and one of the demons in a room. If they'd band together to kill us or try to kill each other first. That seems like something we should try and find out sometime." Oh-so-casually.

-

Vivienne seems to catch his lack of comprehension, "When I was first…free, I suppose you could say, when I was chosen to be the Magdalena, and sent out into the world, the first thing I did was watch every television show I could get my hands on. One was a carton with a pair of mice who were always plotting to take over the world." Weird. "From what I have seen, the Angelus seems to hate anything it perceives as darkness, right or not. I would be interested to see if they would consider the demon evil. The most righteous rarely see their own flaws."

-

"I can't say that ever caught my attention," Tom admits, with a shift of shoulders. Though, granted, in his own way he probably lead a life not-quite but also somewhat sheltered too. At least until recent years, as is obvious by the casual way he downs the remainder of that glass. He stifles a yawn. "Well, next time there's a demon chowing down on you, give me a call. I've something the Angelus might be interested in. Maybe we can set set up a showdown."

-

"In retrospect, looking at it now, I probably would think it was ridiculous. But I was fifteen, and had literally just escaped a nunnery. Anything I could find in the, well, the real world seemed amazing to me. I suppose, sometimes, it still does." She takes time to add some cream and sugar to her coffee, before she continues, moving to rest against the edge of the breakfast table, "For that, I think I'll need your phone number." The yawn she notes, "If you'd like to sleep, I have a roll-away bed. You'd be safe here, if that's your choice." And if nothing else, she has his clothes hostage in her washing machine.

-

"It… makes more sense now, you," Tom says, with another flicker of fingers, though he doesn't seem inclined to elaborate on that thought, resting the empty glass on the arm of the couch as he moves to stretch out along its length. He's tall, feet hanging over the far side. "No, I'm good," he says, quickly — though hard to tell whether he means he's good, right here on the couch, or good, not staying, since either way he's making himself temporarily comfortable. He turns his head, just to glance at her, wryly. "Trying to get my number, huh?" his tone insinuates all sorts of things, all them wholly unlikely.

-

"Yes, I suppose. I do sometimes still feel as though I am playing catchup with the rest of the world." And certainly, never seeming to spend too long in one place doesn't help with that. "As you like." A sip of her coffee, accompanied by a wrinkle of her nose as she adds a bit more sugar, before she heads to switch clothes from washer to dryer. Although the question of whether or not she's meticulous enough to separate colours from whites is not one that will be answered today, as Tom's clothes are pretty much all dark. "Believe me. I am not that smooth." In answer to his wry implication, "And also not celibate, so I don't need to be." When you're not breaking the rules, why bother being coy?

-

"The world is just people. Understand people, it gets a whole lot easier," the ex-priest says. "The problem is, everyone lies, even to themselves, so…" he gives a half shrug of shoulders — shoulders that hunch in as he quells another round of coughing. "No? Huh," Tom, to his credit, seems more surprised than interested.

-

"But the world is not just people. It's also jelly doughnuts and campari spritzes." And if one ever wished to know the secret to Vivienne's heart. "Of course they do, and to themselves most of all. Sometimes without even realizing that they're doing it." She transfers the clothing, before she turns back to the room, "No. Why would I be? I am not a nun, though many previous Magdalena have been, and in years past the Magdalena were expected to bear their replacements. And in the end, we are here, we who are descended from the Magdalena and the Son because they chose to partake in the most basic power of men and woman. To create life."

-

"I would imagine the Church wouldn't wish you… distracted," Tom says it as blandly as he can manage, and yet still can't quite keep the derision entirely from his voice. "And if you haven't noticed it yet — the Church is riddled with contradictions. Which largely seems to be resolved via the method of," he puts his fingers to his ears, "La, la, la, I can't hear you!"

-

"Sexual intercourse and emotional attachment are not the same thing, as I imagine most of the people who find themselves using those odd dating apps on their phones would be the first to tell you. It never has been, even in the days past when we liked to believe that chivalry was not yet dead. And regardless, a woman does not need to love a man to bear a child. I imagine there were any number of Magdalena in times past who bore a child because it was their duty, and not because they had any real desire for the child. Especially as the Church had, in those times, the care and raising of those children. My own raising was the same. I was taken from my mother and raised by the Church. Who I was, what my name was before they gave me the name I have now, I do not know. I likely never will."

-

"This is way too" weird? uncomfortable? awkward? There are so many words that could conceivably fit in that space that it seems Tom just doesn't know which to pick. "I need to" he rolls to his feet, unsteadily wavering for a moment, looking for where he's deposited his mostly ruined (but still beloved) jacket.

Nevermind the sirens still wail, the subway's probably stopped, and it's along walk back to Brooklyn through undoubtedly very many police and national guard checkpoints, even on a day when he wasn't stuck with that rattling cough from smoke inhalation. Shit's just got too real.

-

"Strange, I know. Certainly not the sort of thing, I imagine, that you'd be having a discussion with me about, I'm certain." Vivienne, however, seems not as bothered by it all as Tom is. And that is not that surprising, given that she's spent her life with people poking and prodding at every aspect of her existence. Still, as he attempts to take off, sans his own clothes, she, well, he's not her prisoner, and she lets him go, though she does, before the end, offer, "I'll drop your clothes off at your office tomorrow." It is a public space, and all.

-

Whatever Tom might say, it's clear some of his upbringing — what was the majority of his life — still sticks with him in a troubling way that he's clearly all-too-aware of. He gives a grunt that seems to be acknowledgement, tugging on his favorite jacket, grimacing at the hole burned through one arm, and shoulders his way out into the burning, smoke-filled night of New York.

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