A Less Than Routine Checkup


isis_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title A Less Than Routine Checkup
Synopsis Because when you inject partially unknown substances into friends, you need to find the time to make sure they're not dying because of what you've done.
Date July 23, 2019

A Street in Yamagato Park

July has been a busy month for Zachery. A month of long drives to make short visits and work negotiations and figuring out where he's even going to be calling home in the near future. All of this may make for a good reason for him to try and relax by visiting Yamagato park for a change of scenery and pace, but this is not, in fact, why he's here.

"I hope you like octopus," Zachery calls flatly over his shoulder, at the person presumably still standing nearby, "and if you don't, well, try it anyway. I'll eat it if you don't."

It's late enough for the sky to be pitch black, and should there be any stars visible above, the neon lights adorning just about every corner and archway do a stellar job shrouding them from view. Despite the time of day, there's a certain clamminess in the air, enough for him to be tugging at the collar of his dress shirt - he never was good at figuring out casual dress, and the heatwave hasn't exactly been kind. He slides some cash over to a woman tending a food stall that looks like it might very well be a permanent fixture, and she pauses her preparations for a practiced swipe to claim it, only to slide two paper bowls filled with takoyaki back in its place. Zachery scoops one of them up, stabs one of the dough balls with the short chopsticks provided and turns around to offer the other serving in Isis' direction.

Hidden behind Zachery’s taller frame until he turns back with food in had, Isis is looking off across the dark, manicured Yamagato grounds. With a snappy twitch that reels her back into reality, messy bun jostled atop her head, she looks at the little paper plater before her. “That’s not sushi.” Surprise! But, her hands are already at the flimsy bowl by the nature of ingrained etiquette.

Light reflects off her pale shoulders and arms the same way it does the moon - with an opaque glow about it, tinged to flirty, fun colors by the neon signs. She lifts her face up with a single wrinkle between her brows. So serious. “Octopus?” She gives Zachery’s dough ball an incredulous look. “You first.”

She's hardly finished the two words and Zachery's already chewing away, having demonstrated exactly how not to use chopsticks by just using them as a stabby cocktail stick. "Honestly, now," he complains past the food still in his mouth, before swallowing it down and swiping an arm past his forehead. Despite his weak, force-of-habit smile, it's obvious he may have made the wrong decision not to have this meet-up somewhere with airconditioning. "You should at least try to be a little more cultured. Come on, let's find a drink."

With bright blues and magenta from surrounding signs reflecting off of his form, he turns to walk nonchalantly down the street, shoving another piece of food into his mouth. There are a few more stalls up ahead, and few people between them - probably locals - making their way to or from somewhere without taking much notice of their surroundings.

The start of pale brows shoot up in part curiosity and other parts appropriate chastisement. She looks back down to the fried orbs. Her nose twitches. With a deep breath, she spears a ball and brave a bite. Even as she chews, there’s a visible relief when she’s unable to actually discern any octopus or tentacle shape from the stuffing inside.

“Not bad.” Isis’s alto tones still cling to a little apprehension. Setting the dough ball back in the balanced bowl, she takes up a napkin as she follows alongside the doctor. It’s only as she dabs the napkin along her throat and exposed collarbone that it becomes clear: Sure, even Zachery reflects the neon lights, but Isis is nearly aglow with it. It’s not just the porcelain quality of her skin, but a glossy sheen of sweat that reflects the ambient light about her. She doesn’t seem to notice.

“Oh, gods - a drink. Yes, please.”

Who is Zachery to say no to a lady? Or, at the very least, Isis.

When he speaks up again, the tone of his voice is dragged a little lower, while his attention stays on the sights ahead. "I have some bad news for you." A beat passes, in which his smile turns into a grin that fights its way to the top as he walks. "You're going to have to go it sober, for now. Doesn't mean it can't be something tasty, though."

Record scratch.

Isis stops in her track, the napkin pressed to her forehead and obscuring one hazel eye. She peaks out from under the limp white paper towel that disguises the sharp arc of one brow. The pinched purse of her lips though, that’s unobscured. “Wait. What?” Blink blink.

“We didn’t agree to that. What-Why would I do that? And, more importantly, how sober are we talking?” So, there’s more to Isis than the common drink. That is not common knowledge.

Zachery keeps walking, and it takes him several seconds - and Isis' question - before he turns around. But even then, he's not entirely stopping. Walking slowly backwards, he eyes her with amusement clear in the deepening of his crow's feet and brightening of his grin. "You've got a rash." He hasn't looked - but he has - at the crook of her elbow where a needle sat almost two weeks prior. "I assume you've noticed."

At least he doesn't sound worried. Not a drop of concern is in his voice. "I'm going to give you some antibiotics, just in case. Which means you're on grape juice rather than wine."

“I haven’t got a-…” Isis turns over her arm, the underside unmarred by freckles not bares a bright, blotchy red patch. “What the fuck is THAT!?” A couple people turn to look. The tiny redhead quickly tucks her arm up under her bosom and skitters over to Zachery, her voice dropping to a hiss: “That was not there this morning.” Her face is screwed up, tight with thought, before she nods confidently.

“I repeat..” Still quietly. “What the fuck is that?

"It's a rash." Zachery answers in a chuckle, his tone a steady mix of confident and dismissive both. "People get them, sometimes. It's not uncommon. Though not ideal, either."

With her at his side again, he turns on a heel to walk forward once more. "How are you feeling, otherwise? You seem in good health, overall. Imagine a summer cold, in this heat. Going to touch your face in a second." The latter is announced matter-of-factly, and immediately after he skewers another one of the takoyaki pieces and shoves it into his mouth, he reaches to touch a knuckle to one of Isis' temples. Because he can.

“We’re not really playing the realm of ‘not uncommon’ here, Doc.”

One arm tucked up to her torso, the other awkwardly balancing the forgotten takoyaki, Isis keeps quiet and well… jittery. The announcement of the impending touchy-touchy doesn’t help and inspires a visible reaction that reads something like:

- What the fuck?
- Ohhhh. Right. Lockdown on the body swapping. Got it.

So, there’s only a little squint to go with accommodating tilt of her head towards the knuckle. Isis watches Zachery pointedly from the corner of her eye. “And, antibiotics will clear it right up?”

"I don't think it will do anything." This answer leaves Zachery in a hurry, but a little flatly, like his thoughts are half elsewhere. Suddenly, upon a brightly coloured drink stand coming into view up ahead, he perks up a little and shifts immediately into something cheerier again when he asks, "You ever have bubble tea? It's honestly a bit of a tourist trap thing by now, but all the same."

“You’re enjoying this.” It’s as flat a statement as humanly possible.

Isis is staring at the bubble tea. Talking to the bubble tea. Is anywhere but with the fucking bubble tea. And yet, “No, I’ve never had bubble tea.” She closes her eyes, a fresh bead of sweat trickling from her hairline and tracing the far edge of a brow. Deeeeeep breaths. “Pick your favorite… as long as its not octopus flavor.”

She opens her eyes and fixes a more pointed look on Zachery. “Then spike it with vodka, because I’m not taking pointless drugs.” The smile she paints on is sickly sweet, to go with the chirpy sarcastic lilt of her voice: “Okie dokie?

"Listen," Zachery offers back, "I don't even know if they sell alcohol in the streets, here. Different laws and everything. You may be shit out of luck. But," he throws Isis a half-lidded look like he's having to be patient with her, "we can keep looking." He gives a one-sided shrug, and continues in the direction of the bubble tea stand, getting in a short line of three others already waiting.

While he stands, squaring back his shoulders and poking idly at his food, he adds, "I'd be lying if I wasn't enjoying it a little. The mystery. Come on, try some of the orange one, it's good. Mango or some… shit. It'll cool you down." The rest of the takoyaki is shoved into his mouth, and he leans to the side to let the paper bowl slide off into a trash can.

Pale visage turned down and the subtlest degree away, as if all efforts are to not look at Zachery, she yet watches him pointedly from the corner of her eye. Silent. Considering.


“I do like mango,” she concedes with a little side-to-side bobble of her head. Isis pulls her arm away from her torso then, finally giving the splotchy discoloration of the flesh a proper look-see. “Is it spreading already?” Her voice squeaks just a pinch at the end there. Paranoia? Her? Never.

She clears her throat once and straightens. A dough ball gets a vehement stab and a bit that’s has a little more chomp than is necessary. She chews deliberately, like someone counting each bite, and now succeeds in looking anywhere but at the doctor.

But whatever looks are thrown his way are missed by Zachery himself. "You're fine. It's probably just a minor bacterial infection." This leaves him quite calmly, only for the next sentence to be tacked on with a much more pronounced haste to his words — "You know, if you hadn't made such a fuss, I might have been able to do things a little more properly."

Isis tips her head so that in part she is rolling her eyes but also effectively looking up at Zachery with a bored expression. “Are we going to go there? We really going to do this again? Hmmmm?” She squints at him, but the shifty expression has no venom behind it. How could it, after what he’d seen? She drops the act and lets her gaze slide back to the Bubble Tea stall. “What, you don’t have anything out there in the big wide scary world that makes you react in ways you would rather not?” she inquires with a tone that is carefully poised on the line of incredulous and welcoming. Dangling that Friendship Carrot still. Come on. Open up. Just a wee bit.

"Unfortunately not." Zachery fires back without pause. "I'm afraid I've never experienced fear of any sort. Terrible shame, that."

He tries to keep a straight face, but fails almost immediately, a wry grin pulling at the corner of his mouth. Just in time for the two people in front of him to leave with their drink, and for him to move forward and to wave noncommittally at an illustration hung up toward the back of the stall. "The — uh, yeah, orangey one? Mango? Two, thank you." He clears his throat, digging into a pocket for some cash.

A pale little hand sets a few bills down on the shiny metal edge of the serving window. Isis eeks back into view with a leaning of her body, looking up and aside at Zachery with squinty scrutiny. “You should come clean, or I’ll consider that a personal challenge. You know, as a friend, of course.” She grins. “Life experiences and all that. Does the body good. Build character. Puts hair on your chest.” She puffs up and gives a pat-pat on her own sternum.

She reaches out and takes one of the two plastic cups set before them, raising a little salute. “Speaking of avoiding experiences - You tell the girl your moving in with her and Baby Daddy yet?” Isis doesn’t sip the drink yet, but tries to find a casual way to press the cool, dewy cup to the hot, rashy skin on the inside of her elbow.

All too happy to step back and let her pay, Zachery steps back turns his attention to Isis fully, now, his grin momentarily growing a little stronger. Once he's got a hold of his own cup, he starts moving — not many stalls left up ahead, and the relative dark and stillness of the streets beckons.

"I…" He swallows something back, stuffing one hand into a pocket while he walks, lifting the drink so he can delay his response quench his thirst before answering. "Not yet. I will. And she's not - living with him. As such. Said 'baby' definitely is, though." Whatever smoothness he's capable of leaves him, words dragged out of him as if against his will. "Any idea how you, uh. Would do living with a young kid?"

His steps are matched with a little extra effort from shorter legs to keep her in stride at his side. As his oh-so-debonair facade begins to flake at the edges, she relieves him of the directness of her gaze. Look, tea with floaty goo orbs inside. It almost makes one miss the frozen yogurt craze days. Isis gives the cup the ‘When In Rome’-shrug and takes a sip. And yet there is the sense that, that which is in her periphery is really where her attention lay.

Lips puckered around the edge of the straw delay her reply a moment. She even pauses still to lick her lips before giving a too succinct, too confident: “Yup.” The ‘p’ pops off her lips and she looks up to the darkening sky.

Maybe he regrets his choice of drink, or subject of conversation, but Zachery's nose wrinkles with an absentminded curl of a lip into what isn't quite a sneer. "'Yup'?" The word leaves him awkwardly, like it's the first time he's said it. He turns his head to shoot a lingering look at his conversation partner, as they leave most of the neon spectacle behind them.

“Does that surprise you?” It’s a question without spite. It’s a freshly piqued interest: What does she look like through his eyes, anyway?

“Ever hear of the Lighthouse?” She shrugs and carries on. “I used to spend a lot of time there. After-” The War “-I ran a kind of… pit stop.” Halfway house sounds too delinquent. “Took in some kids and helped…” There’s another pause to indulge a thoughtful sigh, a deep breath bearing the weight of several year’s memories. “See them on their way. Some to the border, some probably to their death. That what happened to those that took on the weight of adult problems, right? War isn’t a child’s game, afterall. Sure, some of them had abilities that made them valuable, but even if they did survive - what’s life like after what they might have seen?”

Blink-blink. She looks up and around her. Oh, he’s still here. “But, the in-between the coming and the going, it was just us misfits trying to find common ground amidst dysfunction. So, the key to kids is… well, it’s not about raising kids. It’s about raising adults. It’s not you versus them. They're just tiny humans and the scope of their problems doesn’t diminish the size of their problems. Once upon a time, you were afraid of something. You forgot it now. They will too. Eventually. But, for them that missing teddy bear or that crush that said something mean - that’s the equivalent of a bomb in their tiny scope of the world.” She combs her hair back away from her face with a clawed gesture along her scalp.

Her whole face scrunches up, pale lips parting but… what more is there to say? Isis holds tosses up an empty-handed gesture then lowers her lips to the straw and slurps noisily. Slrrrrpt.

Averting his gaze back to the street, Zachery simply listens for a while. Watching the ground in front of him, the drink in his hand. Expression pulling back to neutrality. There's a lot to process in what he's hearing, but the way his shoulders pull up a little makes it look like he… might be a little reluctant to do so.

There are a few different ways he could answer, and during a brief silence, he manages to pick none of the ones available to him. Instead, he ends up somewhat clinically asking, without looking at the person he's been talking to, "Are you feeling all right?"

“You mean, for a woman that just word vomited all over you, has a mysterious rash after injecting a dangerous lab-plasma-sample-thing, and is decidedly not imbibing alcohol…?” Isis gives Zachery a tight smile. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll be fine. I’m good. You’re good. It’s all good.”

Say it enough, maybe they’ll both believe it. Slrrrrpt.

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