A Pretty Pair


nicole_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title A Pretty Pair
Synopsis An unlikely pair attempt to pull each other out of their doldrums.
Date May 8, 2019

Dirty Pool Pub

Nicole misses the days when a person could smoke in a bar. She’s also grateful that she can’t smoke in bars anymore, or she’d be smoking right now. And her sister would find out about it somehow, and then she’d be shamed for it. That’s not a lecture she wants.

Instead, she’s on day three of drinking at the Dirty Pool. She’s got a usual spot at the bar now, and is drowning her apparent sorrows with tonic and gin. Her hair’s had hands run through it and dug into it a few too many times and her eyes are puffy and red from having been crying before she arrived. Definitely not since she’s arrived, because her make-up is immaculate, save for the lipstick that’s rubbed off on her glass.

When her phone rings on the bar, Nicole scowls at it as though it’s offended her. Or that she’s surprised it has a strong enough signal to connect a call in the first place. The expression lifts into one of surprise when she sees the name on the screen. She lifts the BlackBerry off the bar an presses the green button to answer, wedging it between her shoulder and ear. “Jesus,” she offers as her greeting. “I thought you’d ghosted on me.”

Christ, she would love a cigarette.

"You know what, if Jesus came back after a few days, I figured I should manage too," comes a voice from the other end of the line. Hello this is Zachery. Albeit an exhausted sounding version of himself. "I should probably open with an apology, though, ri- -" He pauses as background noise filters in. "… Where are you?"

“It’s been more than a few days,” Nicole points out flatly. She’s not really that upset, but she’s not going to let him off easy either. She takes a drink from her glass and sets it down in front of her, brow furrowing. “The bar. The fuck are you?” Because she swears she just heard some douchebag bellowing from the back of the room in stereo.

Yeah. It has. The line goes quiet.

"I'd say ask and ye shall receive but I didn't even get to the asking part yet." This voice comes from a different direction, as Zachery emerges from amidst group of bikers watching the pool table in the back.

He sounds just as tired, if not moreso, dressed in what Nicole's seen him in both times so far, except this time is hair's a little wilder and his usually immaculately white dress shirt is covered in brown and green smears, like he's been run over by a lawn mower. He's had a day.

Which is further emphasized by the fact that when he hauls himself onto a stool next to her, his right hand has a beer bottle in it, but his left - save for the thumb and index finger - is wrapped tightly in bandages. Splinted, from the looks of it. None of this, however, is going to stop him from giving Nicole a once-over once he's seated, equal parts wariness, amusement and attempted smarm.

As much as Nicole might like to stay flippant, she can’t quite manage it. She grabs her phone and makes sure the call is ended before setting it back on the bar. “Holy fuck, man.” She shakes her head, bewildered at his appearance. “What the hell happened to you?”

She’s about to ask if he needs a doctor when she remembers how absurd that question would be, given the givens.

She’s quick to catch herself. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I can respect that.” She doesn’t like it when her every little scratch and bruise is asked about, after all. And he hasn’t asked her why she’s a haggard fuckin’ mess either.

"I lost my temper," Zachery answers immediately after Nicole finishes speaking, breathing a laugh at the comment of respect, and giving a noncommittal motion in her direction with the beer bottle while the neck's still between his fingers.

"And then — I came here, and got drunk, and fell asleep in a corner before opening time, and figured it might be a good time to call you of all people, and here we are." The grin on his face only widens, as do his arms, makeshift splint and bottle and all - look, it's me, being here. Except there's a subtle shift over the top half of his expression, as something filters into his thoughts from… elsewhere. He hadn't seen it, not exactly. But he knows. "You've been crying."

“I lost my job,” is a sort of echo of Zachery’s own explanation. Nicole laughs bitterly, dragging her hands through her hair and then gently pressing her fingers under her eyes to dab away any moisture or smeared eyeliner. Coming away clean, she nods her head once as if to acknowledge it. Her tongue runs over the front of her teeth.

“And then,” she continues to parrot back, “I came here, and got drunk. But I at least took a cab home and…” She waves a hand dismissively, laughing again at her own misfortune. “Still want that date?”

Just like that, Zachery's drink-affected, bigger movements turn into smaller, more calculated ones. His beer is pulled close, elbow on his leg as he dangles the bottle downward, eye scanning her face as she speaks. The bandage-wrapped hand is held close to his stomach, the collection of pinky, ring and middle finger sticking out straight in their unyielding prison of white.

"That's a… that's a big job to lose." His amusement has drained a little, though some of it sticks around under the blanket of what looks like concern raising of his eyebrows. The question is ignored, for the moment. "Are you all right?"

“Yeah, yeah it is.” Nicole presses her lips together and closes her eyes a moment, as if willing away a fresh onslaught of tears. Willpower wins out even if she does have to sniffle momentarily. “They eliminated my position. Too many links in the chain, they said.”

This is all an easy lie to tell, because Nicole is actually that upset about losing her position, even if she’s been transferred to something else. She needs to be seen being upset. The look on Zachery’s face tells her she’s accomplished her goal.

“I will be.” All right. “Once I figure out how I’m going to provide for my kid without relying on her father.”

"Place like that, though…" There's consideration in Zachery's voice as his bottle comes back up again so he can point the neck of it into Nicole's direction. "Nice severance package, at least?"

It's entirely possible he may have missed out on many of said severance packages, and not done very much of this… empathising with crying people. Or the semblance of one. As if not really wanting an answer to the question, he follows it up immediately with a strangely joyful sounding, "I quit my job. This morning."

“Aren’t we a pretty pair?” Nicole asks sardonically. “Couple’a unemployed bums.” She doesn’t comment on the severance package or lack thereof, preferring instead to take another drink from her G&T. “What are you going to do next? You can’t support yourself with the clinic, can you?” The MPs might even shut it down eventually.

Before he answers, Zachery laughs into an already raised beer bottle against his lips. After a swig to finish it off, he sets the empty thing on the bartop. "'Clinic', that's very generous of you. But no, I can't. Everyone I've received in there has either been homeless or penniless or, in most cases, both. Supplies - ah - well. They're… dwindling."

And yet, his mirth is not. It's all just a big joke. Maybe it's the company that's got him in a good mood. "I'm looking into options. There's a few. I'll be alright, I always am." He motions toward himself with his bandaged hand, as if that's proving a point. It wouldn't be for lack of the currently present confidence in his voice and posture. "You're not escaping that date either, if you were hoping. Now that your schedule's wide open, after all…"

“What can I say? I’m a generous and giving kind of gal.” Nicole chuckles softly. She’s not put off by his demeanor in the face of whatever this might be for him - personal tragedy or new beginning.

She nods along slowly, tongue pushed to the inside of one cheek to make it swell outward slightly as she thinks. “Well, you best make it quick. I’m moving next week. Not far, but… far enough. I need a change of scenery.”

Zachery simply sits quietly, breaking eye contact only to look at his empty bottle. When he looks back to Nicole, he does so with a look of idle contemplation, eye scanning her face as she speaks while his smirk pulls to one side. Generous and giving, huh.

"Let's make this happen, then. Have some fun before you blow town." With the weight of the day and effects of alcohol visibly pulling at him, he shifts in his seat as preparation to get up. But not before he offers his uninjured hand forward, fingers relaxed, palm upward. "I'm going to take a shower. But before that, you."

Again, he doesn’t run. She keeps expecting it any moment now. That he’s going to look up and say something like well, look at the time! and that will be that. Instead, he’s still sitting there, and now, he’s offering his hand out.

Nicole drains the last of her drink and grins before taking that offered hand. “Me, huh?”

With Nicole's hand in tow, Zachery rises and begins the familiar trek toward that back door. This day may have started every possible shade of wrong, but he is damn well going to end it right. And preferably before the last of his heavy duty painkillers leave his system.

"We'll both be just fine. We'll be great. Let's figure out a day for this get-together, then leave this day on a high note." There is absolutely no attempt to lower his voice as he makes his way, halfway sideways to glance back to Nicole, through and past the regulars of the pub, "And what better high note, than one of yours."

Color flushes into Nicole’s cheeks, but she doesn’t let go of his hand, letting him lead the way to that doorway. “You are asking for trouble with talk like that,” she chides, wishing she could have managed to sound just a little less indignant in the process.

“Dessert first,” she murmurs, bumping one hip against his. She drops hold of his hand so he can open the door for them. “Then we’ll talk dinner plans.”

"Trouble has its way of finding me whether I ask for it or not," Zachery makes quick work of unlocking the door, and once it's pushed open, he reaches to guide Nicole inside with his hand pressed to the small of her back. "You're here too, aren't you?"

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