2010-08-01: T. I. A.



Guest Starring:


Ben and Lyle

Date: August 1, 2010


Sometimes I wonder… will God ever forgive us for what we've done to each other? Then I look around and I realize… God left this place a long time ago.

Danny Archer, Blood Diamond


Homeless Shelter

The weekends are the busiest time in the life of a Priest, between mass on Friday and mass on Sunday, then all of the confessions it's difficult to get a little time for reflection. As per his usual schedule, Father Patrick is at the shelter early on Sunday evening with a few of the nuns and some of the congregation. In a quiet corner of the kitchen, he's slowly chopping more carrots to boil for the people who come here to eat. Over the past couple of weeks, he's gone from grocery to grocery, bartering his services for food. Anything they feel might not sell is donated to the kitchen for the price of the smile of God.

After chopping the last of the vegetables, he drops them into the pot and gives it a little stir, only to be scolded by Sister Agatha who has comandeered the kitchen to save the poor diners from Father Patrick's cooking. He's a good listener, a good speaker, a fine host, but around the parish it's well known that he leaves much to be desired in the realm of cooking. Unless of course you count the microwave dinners for one that stack up over the week.

"Claire, I'm so proud of you." Sandra smiles as she ushers the regenerator's younger brother into the shelter. "Aren't you proud Lyle? This is such a nice thing for her to do." The boy merely grunts as he looks around. It's not his chosen way to spend a Sunday night, there's things to watch on HBO… Family television time was never the same after the first episode of True Blood. Whether the young man was hooked on the show or just its main starlet, he never lets on but he never misses an episode.

As the family makes their way inside, Sandra's smile wanes a little and an expression of worry crosses her features. "Oh no… this is horrible…" There's so many people and so few volunteers that it's a wonder the place keeps running at all. Thankfully some of the homeless themselves have stepped up to work in a communal type environment to keep themselves afloat.

"Well for landsakes Father Patrick, that's just wonderful!" Sister Mary almost literally beams as she peers at the pot! She shoots Sister Agatha a rather ingenuine smile before hopping into the foray outside the kitchen. "Look at all of this able and willing bodies!" she quite literally bumps into Sandra before bringing a hand to her chest rather happily. "Welcome~" she sings "Welcome to our little abode! Such a delight to have you all here! I mean, honestly, is there a better place to be on Sunday night?! I'm Sister Mary, ya'll are?" She reaches for Lyle's arm, "Come now, kid! We'll getcha all set up in the kitchen— Sister Agatha would be more than willing to have you help!"

"Well, it's the least I could do. Quit gushing, Mom," Claire says, cheeks coloring a touch as she glances at the reality of her choice to come here, wondering if maybe it's just a touch too real. Signing up and actually having to talk to the homeless are two different things. A man mutters to himself at a table, another one tears crumbs from his bread and piles the crumbs in little clusters. They all look dirtier and sadder than she imagined they would up close. "Sorry she roped you into it, too, Lyle," the blonde tells her brother in a whisper before turning at Agatha's greeting.

"Oh, hi. I'm Claire. This is my mom Sandra, my brother Lyle," the petite regenerator says with a bright smile, sounding more confident than she feels by far.

Ace must be trying to set some kind of personal record as here she is, putting in another apperance. Having laid low since the night the Padre ran afoul of those wannabe ganster kids and the riot which took place not long after it, she's been scarce, hiding in the subway tunnels until she was sure the cops wouldn't be hounding her ever step. Not that they were but she's paranoid like that. Sue her. Peeking her head in around the corner of a doorframe, she just looks around, perhaps waiting to be noticed and either invited in or asked to leave before moving.

Having been ushered out of the kitchen by Sister Agatha after chopping duty is done, Father Patrick meanders among the guests in the dining room. He smiles at some and gives worried glances to others but each of them gets a good once over before he moves on to the next. The one noticed by Claire, the one gathering crumbs in a pile is the first to receive a sit down visit from the good Father.

"And how're ya t'day," the priest asks in his easy going brogue. Where his congregation receives a more formal voice, Patrick is more at home in this place than any other. "Looks like ye've got a good collection goin', keep up the good work brother." And he's up again, patting the man on the back before he disappears. Before departing completely, he glances over to Mary and gives a nod of his head toward the bread breaking man.

Lyle is ushered into the kitchen and Sandra's smile widens again. Her eyes twinkle as she looks after her son and leaning toward Claire, she murmurs quietly, "It'll be good for him, he needs to get out of the house and his nose out of the video games." Before making herself at home in the shelter, Sandra takes off the light jacket she's wearing and turns back toward the door, looking for a place to hang it up. There's Ace.

The middle aged woman starts a bit to see the woman skulking near the wall but rather than react, she folds the coat over her arm and waves the woman in. "I'm sorry, we were standing in your way, come in." The matriarch of the Bennet clan seems to have found her calling, ushering in the people too wary to come in. Behind Ace, there are a few more waiting and those few quickly duck inside and make their way toward the line.

With Lyle away in the kitchen, Sister Mary directs her attention to the man breaking bread. "How're you doin'?" her Southern accent is warm, inviting, and has an unusual kind of brightness to it, especially for a nun. She lays a hand on his shoulder and leans forward to murmur something in his ear. After doing so, the good sister backs up several steps and waits for him to move. "It's just some stackin' heavy lifting that us sisters aren't really designed for— this is why men and women are different ya know! Well that and procreation but I have no use for that! Muscles right now— perfect use for!" She beams.

Smirking as Lyle is absconded with by the nun, Claire nods to her mother. "Yeah, maybe I should bring Archie with us next time…" she says, before her mother is off and talking t Ace. Claire tilts her head, recognizing the young woman from the day of the riot. "Hi," she says a little shyly. She's used to crazy old people homeless people, but people closer to her age is… well, sad. "Um, should I just… go scoop out soup or what?" she wonders aloud, moving toward the line to find something useful to do.

"Oh hey. That's alright. Was just fu…er…lookin' around, really." Even then, Ace wanders in, stepping past the door and several people only to pause when greeted by Claire. "Hi," she says in return, sounding as equally shy. "So what's on the menu?" Shoving her hands in the pocket of her old ratty makeshift shorts, she stays put now that she's inside, the entry way freed up for anyone else wanting to come in behind her.

The homeless man looks up at Sister Mary and there's something of a bewildered look in his eye, almost as though he can't really believe that she's talking to him. But she is and so he gets up from his seat and ambles after her, leaving the pile of crumbs on the table for the next person to enjoy. Or not. It's of no consequence to him.

Father Patrick watches them leave with just a touch of a smile on his lips. "Good work, Sister Mary…" he mutters to himself before turning to see the two young ladies conversing. There's a mischevous glimmer in his dark blue eyes as he approaches the pair and offers a hand first to Ace and then to Claire. Should either take his greeting, they will find him clapping his other hand firmly down upon it and giving a hearty shake. "It's good to see both of you here," he turns to Ace and gives her an even brighter smile, "I've bin lookin' for you in particular young lady. I bin meanin' to thank you fer your 'elp the other week."

To Claire, he gives a bright smile and shakes his head. "Sister Agatha'll have you locked in the kitchen fer the good part o' the night if yeh even offer that. I've other chores that need doin' if yer willin'. The beds need tah be made an' laundry to be piled. Clean linens and soap tah be given out to all registered."

It's then that Sandra pops up behind Claire, "Oh! That sounds like something we could do together, doesn't it Claire?" From across the room, Lyle eyes his sister with envy as he places hot rolls on the trays of the people passing by. It's not exactly soup ladling but it's not exactly fun either. At least Claire will be able to move.

Sister Mary leads the man to the closet, he follows willingly enough, especially as the good sister has a rather positive reputation in these parts. She guides him into the pantry and the door closes behind the pair. Five minutes pass before the Sister reemerges from the closet, alone. Her habit and clothing look a little worse for wear with a thin layer of brown dust covering them, brown dust that she thwaps at once outside. Her smile is a little tighter, more strained as she goes back about her work, milling around the clients, but she attempts to catch Father Patrick's line of vision. She issues him a different smile, a more knowing, yet almost hesitant smile before going back to work.

"You probably don't really want me to be near the food anyway. Boiling water is about all I can manage, and even then I think I've burnt it once," Claire says, putting her small hand in the priest's when he holds it out. "Making beds, I can probably do, as long as you aren't going to try to bounce a quarter off of it in some army inspection."

Green eyes glance at Ace again, offers her another smile. "Looks like soup, soup, or maybe more soup? Glad to see you're okay," Claire tells her fellow rioter, sotto voce so her mother doesn't catch it, as she prepares to follow the priest to see about the new task she's been assigned.

Ace is fairly adverse to being touched so when the Priest offers his hand it's left unclasped by her, her own both held behind her back. "It really is alright, Padre. I jus' couldn't let 'em bully ya, ya know?" Truth of the matter is that she has a soft spot where people getting harrassed goes and will go out of her way to make sure those doing the harrassing is made to pay for it. Such is the case that night. Claire is looked at then and she smirks, catching what she means. "Hehe. You too." Yeah, she caught sight of her during the 'peaceful protest'. Soup of course sounds great and her stomach proves it as it growls, loudly. "Think I'll take y'all up on some. Haven't eaten today."

"Well then, it's a good thing the two of yeh are here then," Father Patrick chimes to the Bennets. When his hand is ignored by Ace, he switches it readily to greet Sandra as he listens to the homeless brawler with interest. "You're quite the protector of those who can't protect themselves, providence must smile on yeh, just as I know the good Lord does." Though she may be homeless, she's in his shelter and Father Patrick counts that as one of the Lord's smiles.

Sandra also turns to listen to Ace, her eyes flicking toward Claire every once in a while. The two young women are at least familiar with each other, something that seems to make Sandra both wary and a burst with a little pride at the same time. Back in Texas, they'd done a few things like this together… of course baking cupcakes for a cheerleader bake sale is a little different but it's all for worthy causes. "I think they have soup tonight," she intones in a friendly voice, "Claire's brother is the one handing out the buns." Then she turns and gives a big wave to her son, "Hello Lyle!" The young man just rolls his eyes and places yet another bun on the next tray.

When the nun comes out of the closet (not a metaphor), the priest catches her eye and turns his body to shield her from the rest of the people in the room. As she brushes the dust from her clothing, he places a fist to his lips and clears his throat. "Perhaps we'll 'ave someone dust out the pantry when we're finished."

"Ahhhhhhhhhchoooooooooo!" the dust tickles the nun's nose. "Absolutely… necessary… it's filthy in there…" Sister Mary agrees with Father Patrick. "It's a mess in there, really." Claire and Sandra are issued a gracious smile before the nun shuffles off to clean herself up for real, perhaps even changing into her second set of clothing. Two changes, that's all she owns, but then they're not even hers really, they're borrowed from the church.

"Handling the buns in a church might get him arrested," Claire says quietly to her mother, when the priest is murmuring to the nun. She grins at the almost comical sneeze and its perfect timing, right on cue. "I can dust if you like," she offers. "After we make these beds, or my mom can get started and I can clean in the pantry, then go finishing making the beds. I mean, how hard can dusting a pantry be?"

"I can help too," Ace offers, that being the safest thing she can say as anything else that might be issued from her are bun jokes, all of them being various shades of blue and purple in nature. "Seriously. I can wait for food." Loooking at Claire, now, she can't help herself and she leans in to whisper to her. "Gotta wonder jus' how good he is at bun-handling. And dude, keep him away from mine, huh?" Ace. Master of the (in)ability to behave herself.

"Claire be nice, he's here helping t— " At Ace's comment, Sandra just looks at the young woman and blanches. Obviously the thought ran through her head of what Noah might do if he found Lyle with his paws on Ace. Then the thought of Lyle with Ace embeds itself in Sandra's mind and she shakes her head vigorously. "No, no, Lyle's a good boy, he wouldn't do that. He doesn't even have a girlfriend."

All of this has Father Patrick chuckling, "Ah Miss," he says to Sandra, placing a firm hand on her shoulder and leading her away from the two young women. "I'm sure you remember what et's like teh be so young, I do, verily, and it makes me happy ev'ry day that I chose the Lord's path." The further he gets from Claire and Ace, the lower his voice gets as he leads her mother toward the stairs. "We'll get those linens an' per'aps the girls'll clean the pantry while we're gettin' the beds ready."

"It is good for Claire to get out like this, you wouldn't believe the things she's had to go through already." Sandra's voice wafts down from above, it's distinctive. Even the low din of the dining room can't mask it. A few of the homeless people look up toward the stairs and then to Claire, almost pitying her for having a mother like that.

Shuffling back to the shelter, Sister Mary returns in a fresh set of clothes. Shooting the father a satisfied smile she wanders over to Claire. "Now! Let's git ya'll set up cleaning that pantry! I swear it has some layers of dust! Can make a good sister sneeze and allergic and feel just… icky after!" She smiles brightly as she walks towards the mop closet, another glance is shot to the priest before leading the way to it.

"Um. Please don't consider bun handling and my brother in the same sentence. It's seriously disturbing to think about!" Claire says with wide eyes, though there's a smirk to show she is (mostly) joking. "Come on, let's go dust."

The petite blonde gives a nod to Ace to follow the nun, then follows herself. "I don't think it will bother me. I'm pretty much not allergic to anything, so it's not a problem at all, Sister." Calling nuns sisters and priests fathers sounds odd to her, since she's not a religious person, but she doesn't know what else to call the woman. Ma'am just sounds wrong. Claire casts a glance over her shoulder at her mother, shaking her head. Her mother is going to find herself in a conversational corner when the priest asks what sort of things Claire's been through. She trusts her mother not to say anything she shouldn't, but now she's putting herself in the position of having to possibly lie to a priest.

Ace is led on and soon disappears into the area they're being tasked with the cleaning of, the only thing showing she's still around is her voice which is raised in a shocked shout. "Holy shit, I think some of this dust is as old as God," that followed by a flurry of sneezes. No, Ace is not blessed by the same luck Claire seems to be. Makes one have to wonder how she can live out on the dirty streets and in the filth of the subway tunnels if she's reduced to a sneezing mess by a bunch of dust. At least Claire doesn't have to hear her go on about her brother and buns and inappropiate touching of them.

The thin layer of dust on everything doesn't seem old and settled, which might be the strangest part of the whole thing. When Ace sneezes an entire shelf of dusty cans is blown clean by the force of the burst of air. At least it'll be easy enough to clean.

In the dining room, one of the older men is looking around, quite concerned and verging on frantic. "Ben?" he keeps repeating, looking under tables, folding chairs, and even into the eyes of other people. "Ben? Where ya go?" Eventually he makes his way near the pantry where his calls reach the ears of all those inside. "Anyone seen my friend Ben? His crumbs are there, but he ain't nowhere."

"Well it just needs a little spit 'n polish!" The Sister insists with a broad grin directed at the pair. She runs a finger over the layer of dust, it's thick and grey. At that a frown plays on her lips. "Well, at least we keep the kitchen clean, right?! Keeps the food healthy— even if the pantry needs work, everything here is well packaged, no dust kin get in! Can you imagine?! That would be so bad… people with allergies sneezing everywhere and people would get all sick 'n stuff— "

"How long since it's been dusted?" Claire asks, peering up at the ceiling of the little room, looking for vents and cracks. "I mean, I never dust my closet or anything, and it doesn't get this dusty. Where is it all getting in?" She wrinkles her nose at the thick dust. It tickles her nose, but she doesn't sneeze. At least she won't get sick from it.

Maybe it's the tone of concern in the old man's voice that catches Ace's attention or maybe it's just the fact that he doesn't know where his friend is that gets her to forget the cleaning. Whatever it might be, she's excusing herself and exiting the food pantry. "Hey," she says while stepping along side him. "What's up? Said you can't find Ben, huh?" Being homeless for all her life, she just might know who Ben is or at least have seen him around but even if she doesn't, Ace is going to help. "Did you check the bathrooms and all that?"

The dirty man shakes his head, the greasy strings of hair staying quite glued to the spot as he does so. "No, he was just sittin' over there, with his crumbs… You seen Ben? You know where he is?" The bum looks sturdy enough, probably in his late forties or early fifties. His beard is full of soup that he might be saving for later and in his grubby pockets there are a couple of stolen rolls that he's saving for a midnight snack.

"You seen Ben?" He repeats as he peeks into the closet and spies the nun, "Sister? You seen Ben? He was counting his crumbs, he gotta get exactly 234 before he eats them. His pile is still there." He's definitely worried, the way his eyes flit around the room, he's trying to guess where his friend might have disappeared to. "He wouldn't leave me, ever, not the way Tiny did last week."

"Oh, I think Ben just stepped out for a smoke! You know he is with the cigarettes!" Sister Mary reaches for this other man's hand. "How about you come help us out in the pantry? By the time we're done I betcha he'll be back and all ready for you to chat 'n have a good time!" She grins broadly at the people gathered here, beckoning them into the pantry. It's all about being smart.

"Wait, the crumb guy?" Claire says, turning to look at Soupbeard, green eyes narrowing as she glances past him into the rest of the soup kitchen. She relays the events in her mind — they were coming in, the priest was talking to the crumb guy, then the sister asked him to…

"He came in here!" Claire says, turning to look deeper inside the pantry she still stands in, frowning as she surveys the walls, looking for some hidden hatchway or crawl space. "I didn't see him come out. There's no way he could come out without walking past us," she says, moving a hand to the wall to start searching for a hidden door. "Is there a door to a cellar? What were you asking him to move?" she asks, glancing at the nun. Perhaps it's because she's in a church, but the idea of foul play has yet to wriggle its way into her brain.

There's a growl from Ace who looks around the pantry, something about this leaving her feeling cold in the pit of her gut. "How the hell does someone walk out without…you know, walking out?" Frowning, she looks to Claire as she tries to figure out what's going on, her face going from pale to red and back a few times as a range of emotions from worry to outright anger play over her face. "This isn't good," she mutters under her breath; it might not have dawned on Claire that foulplay might be a factor in this but to the ever-suspicious mind of the street rat, it can't be anything but until proven otherwise.

"Oh! He probably just…" Sister Mary tries to allay the fears but can't even come up with an excuse for what he could possibly be doing or how he got out of the pantry. Biting her bottom lip, the short nun shifts closer towards the pair, shuffling a little tighter to the pair, touching each's shoulder, "Look. I'm just sayin'! Ben will turn up again soon!" Her gaze scans the room rather distractedly as it falls on Ben's coat. Anyone that knows Ben knows he would never leave his coat behind, no matter how hot or what the circumstances may be.

Claire's mind isn't quite on foul play but on possible abilities. Maybe Ben is a teleporter? Or invisible? Her mind considers the possibilities, even as she glances at the nun, then back at the inordinate about of dust. Something isn't right. "I … I think I'm going to go find my Mom. I just remembered, she's allergic to some laundry detergents and it might be better if I handle the linens, or else she'll break out in hives," she says, stepping back toward the pantry door, wondering where Lyle is, as well.

The sight of the coat has Ace starting, the apparently-discarded garment looked at as if she is expecting it to jump up and do some kind of dance routine or something. "Yeah…okay," she says when Claire announces going to help her mother but she's so distracted it is probably a safe bet that she really has no idea what she had said, her response just one of those automatic ones that come out of one's mouth regardless of lack of comprehension. Crouching down, she picks up Ben's coat and starts to give it a closer look, trying to find clues. "Damnit."

"Ahhhhhh!" Sister Mary virtually screams as she jumps in between Claire and the door. "I mean… look over here!!" She grasps the young woman's arm and tugs her towards Ace and the coat, that layer of grey dust covering everything. Wrinkling her nose, she touches Ace's shoulder.

Within instants an almost dizzying effect occurs as she clutches the pair, it's disorienting in a way as blurs of colours whir past the trio's heads. Sister Mary, however, experiences no disorientation, she's used to this. Completely used to it, and, has been traveling this way for years.

When the disorientation stops, what seems like minutes later, but in actuality is mere moments, she releases the pair from her grasp and steps away from them.

The desert-like terrain that covers this area is dusty, drab, but in the not far-off distance there's a mission house. Small bushes line the area and there are rows upon rows of crops surrounded by large chain-link fences, protecting them and presumably keeping something unwanted out.

Sneezing once, the sister issues the pair a smile. "Hi ladies." A glance is given to the mission house as she steps back again, "Welcome to Malawi! The good news is… Ben should be in the mission house… the bad news…?" she shrugs.

The dizzying makes Claire stumble when they are finally released, falling to the dusty ground. She's teleported with Peter, of course, but only short distances, and this … this had to be further away than a few blocks from park to home. She looks up from where she kneels, peering at the house and then up at the sister, shaking her head.

"Where did you bring us?" the blond regenerator asks, her voice low in a fierce near-growl as she furrows her brows, staring up at the nun. "And why?" She jumps to her feet and glances at Ace, then back to the nun. "Where the hell are we?"

The effects of the teleportation has Ace thrown for a loop and she too is left to stagger once they reach their destination, her face twisted into a mask of discomfort while her hands press to her stomach as if she's about to be ill. "You bitch," she gets out around a mouthful of bile which she spits rudely upon the ground. "Where are we?" It's only the fact that Mary's supposedly a nun that keeps her from being attacked but it's safe to assume that if the Sister makes so much as one wrong move she'll get a beat down regardless of her holy role in life. "Where are we," she echoes Claire, her voice a harsh snarl.

"We're just outside of Lilongwe in Malawi, Africa~" Sister Mary virtually sings. She continues to watch them, however, even as she takes a step back. "You both needed to know how to think of people other than yourselves… so… VOILA~!" again, she sings— in a high-pitched nearly operatic way. "You are sinners in need of redemption! Malawi needs more people to help with their efforts and… SO. HERE. You. ARE!" She beams while stepping back again.

"I needed to think of someone beside myself?" Claire echoes, taking another step forward, her eyes narrowing. "What I need is for people to quit deciding what I need to do. I lost a month of my life getting sent to Haiti… to help people other than myself. I've had my blood stolen from my body to help people other than myself. I came to your church to help people other than myself, by my own will and desire to do so — and this is how I'm thanked?"

Claire might have just been pushed past the breaking point. Sister Mary might just be the straw that broke the little regenerating camel's back.

"What about Ben — you brought him here, to lure us here? You need to bring us back, right now." Yes, the last word is punctuated by a stamp of her foot.

Ace simply gawks, both at Mary for her claims as to how Claire and her need to help others and how they're sinners and Claire while she gets angry, that something that's especially flooring. "I go out of my way to help people," she is quick to point out once she's able to remember how to speak. "I might not be the best of people but I do help!" Claire's looked again and then she sighs, her head going to her hands which are used to hide her face. "I want to go back. I need to go back. I got a job and a roommate…kind of. Damn you, lady. Take us back!"

"Oh no! Ben is here to help also. He'll be fed, clothed, live in an actual house— all-in-all it's a paradise in comparison!" Sister Mary virtually beams as she steps back again. "And darlin' as cute as ye are, you're not goin' anywhere. Although… I need to! People will start to miss me soon!" Again, she dusts off her blue-hued robes. She blows the pair a couple of distinct air kisses before closing her eyes and vanishing before their eyes. A teleporting nun. Who knew?

"I can't be in Africa! I have a job, too—" Claire yells as the nun disappears. "Fuck." She doesn't swear often but she's really, really, really angry. She pulls out her cell phone: no service (she did go with Sprint, thanks!), as she doesn't have it set up for international calls. She didn't think she'd need to. "Dammit." She glances at the mission house. "Do we go in and see what this is about or …" she turns to look around, to see if there's any other options that don't involve the crazy woman enslaving people against their will to do charity work. Of course, there's not much else to be seen. "I'm really not happy about this. I'm supposed to work closing shift." She starts to trudge toward the house.

"We might as well check on Ben before going to find help," Ace says while following, her expression dour. "I'm going to hunt that nun down and beat her within an inch of her fucking life when we get back." Which will most definitely insure her a spot in the Ninth Level of Hell or wherever it is people who sin real big whine up going. "How long do you think it'll be before your mom notices you're not at the church anymore," she then asks, looking up. Without a watch and no idea what kind of time zone they're in now, there's no way to tell what time it is.

While it was the late afternoon in New York, it's early morning here… very early morning. In fact so early finding anyone with whom to discuss the situation will be next to impossible. But here they are. In Malawi.

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