ace2_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Callback
Synopsis After discovering a calling card, "Harry" leaves one of his own in turn.
Date June 10, 2019

Dirty Pool Pub

Throwing out a baited line and hook, ideally, results in catching fish.

But every now and then, it means reeling in another hook.

When Zachery left a plethora of cards offering medical assistance all around Sheepshead (and some more beyond), he was expecting it to be a long term investment. It hadn't truly paid off the way he expected it to, with results few and far between, but time moves on regardless. Fewer people came a-knocking asking for Dr. Z nowadays, and just as well - having moved onto working at Raytech and still getting his legs under him at the new job, his pub-side hideaway business sees little activity.

He was not expecting to be staring at a business card left for him as a result of any of these actions. At the bar of the Dirty Pool Pub, dressed in slacks and dress shirt and standing out like a sore thumb where he sits propped up on a stool and nursing a tall glass of something beer-like that's on tap, he flips the unfamiliar card over between his fingers and reads the name again.

Harry Stoltz.

"What did he look like?" Zachery looks up, but a searching glance finds nothing. He plants a hand onto the bar and leans abruptly to the side to find Bruce - the owner of the pub and the man who he'd been talking to - having fucked off to talk to someone else on the opposite side of the room, roaring with laughter. Abandoned. Nice.

At least he's sitting by himself, now. Turning his attention down to the card again, Zachery lays it flat on the spill-stained wood and pulls a phone from his pocket. Kicking a leg up against the legs of his stool, he dials the number, and waits.

The line rings. And rings. And rings. It crackles, though, instead of voiding the call into the abyss of voicemail, taking the dial tone with it. There's a short stint of silence before the line statics again, but this time there's sound that follows.

"…yes, that'll work. Good. Give me—"

The rough brush of a palm across the receiver fuzzes the certainty of those words, phone rotating in palm before being flipped up to an ear. "Apologies," comes through on the tenuous line, still carrying the professionally polite yet insincere affect of a businessman plenty well. "Still there?"

He doesn't wait for an answer, continuing on with an effortless, disaffected glide to his words. It's not boredom, but it's close. The phrasing is just a formality:

"This is Stoltz. How can I help you?"

"Hello," Zachery fires back in the exact same polite and insincere tone, one so meticulously practised at different functions over the years and now impeccably rattled off while slouched toward his glass and the card both. "This is Alex from Ericson & Roach International. We're a sales training firm, and I'm calling to speak with you about who the fuck you are."

Calm, collected, spoken like a perfect normal inquiry before he pauses to lift his drink, setting it back down directly onto the business card.

"Interesting." is passed as a low comment, but it passes a register that registers as familiar to Zachery. It sounded like…

"My name is Harry Stoltz and I represent business interests looking to re-engage in New York City." He says, the same politeness to it. The next bit has an edge to its professionalism. "Those interests don't include approaching international sales training firms, so I'm curious who passed you my number, and what opportunities you think you could key us into that I'm not already considering, Alex."

The response comes delayed, a time in which the background murmur the pub provides is all too obvious.

When there finally is a response, the crispness has been extracted from Zachery's words and replaced by a slow and almost lazily ponderous quality that both suits his environment a little better and lets the blunted remainder of his accent slip through the cracks more easily.

"Funny, I remember you being a lot less insufferable, Harry." Amusement lingers clear in his voice and on his face before he lifts a hand to scrub it down over his brow. "Just imagine, if you'd accepted my help, you might've had a real job by now."

There's a notable beat of silence following that, the voice on the other end of the line processing. No, this wasn't anyone calling him about his day job, or his other job, or any job at all. A chuff of breath escapes him in return once he pieces it together.

"I'm not the one leaving business cards that might as well scream 'come to me, lose a kidney' all over this third-world hellhole of a city," Harry delivers without actually laughing. He shakes his head, the click of a hard sole on tile accompanying his footsteps. "But we all make our choices. Mine was to not pretend to be what I wasn't, not even for all the charity you had to offer."

Now he does chuckle, a brief one tapered off with a heavy sigh. "Are you at that pub now?" he asks, mostly successful at keeping a sneer from entering his voice. Mostly. "If you are, stay there. If you aren't, change locale. I'll put up with that ramshackle of a neighborhood for a spot of nostalgia, so you'd better be willing to do the same."

The echo of a car door swinging shut passes through the line like it's closing down any argument on the suggestion.

"I'm still at that pub," Zachery answers easily, mimicking the emphasis while sitting up a little straighter. Any ounce of that guarded nature he showed the last time they spoke seems presently missing. "I basically live here. Coming to see my collection of kidneys, then?"

"Something like that," Harry replies, and the line drops.

The man who walks through the door of the Dirty Pool Pub half an hour later looks unlike any other in the room. He doesn't look like he belongs in the Safe Zone at all— possibly like he might be from behind the borders of Yamagato Park. The suit he wears is a crisply-pressed emerald green thing that almost sure carries an expensive label, the thread carrying a sheen and shadow to it. A white folded handkerchief peeks from his breast pocket and compliments the snow white of his shirt, cut in the middle by a burgundy tie, a gold tie clip set on its lower half. Harry has one hand in his pocket, the other massaging his mouth as he scans the bar, wing-tipped feet turning with him as he looks for Zachery.

He finds it's easy. All he has to do is look for the other sore thumb.

"Ah, Miller." escapes him in the form of a huff of amusement as he lowers his arm and heads across the establishment. "Do they serve anything other than beer, at least?" Harry asks instead of saying hello. He nimbly unbuttons the jacket he wears without looking to make it more comfortable to sit in.

Zachery, still at the bar, sits leaned over a small, cheap notebook he'd been scribbling in. It's flicked shut the moment he hears the familiar voice, and he turns to meet Harry's gaze — although with one eye fewer on his part, the other a dull white acrylic imposter. The grin he cracks is no less enthusiastic for it, though he swallows some of that down almost immediately after it comes on.

"You know what, I'm not even sure this is beer. I can probably find you, ah - a water, maybe?" He takes the notebook and slips it into a pocket, getting to his feet and starting to make his way around the bar to the other side. "Brucey! I'm doing the thing again, Brucey."

'Brucey', the very very large biker man who still seems to be caught up in a chat with some equally leather-clad patrons on the other side of the room, lifts a single brow and squares his shoulders as he peers over, fixes Harry with a stare, then returns his attention to the group.

Apparently the thing is okay. Which is just as well because Zachery's already rummaging around under the bartop for something.

Harry looks at Zachery's overt enthusiasm with an arch of a brow, watching him invite himself to the bar's offerings without any judgment at all. "Firewater, I hope," he says as good-naturedly as possible, wagging a finger up and down Zachery's whole being. "I'm going to need something strong to catch up with that any time soon." He stands on the other side of the bar like he might as well be the bartender, for all the bearing he stands there with. There's an odd touch of a smile as he watches the rummaging play out.

"You're missing a part there I wasn't expecting you to," he observes casually, just as casually as he moves onto: "I thought I strangled him before he got you anywhere that damaging."

"You know that old saying, 'never piss off a woman and then hand her a very sharp scalpel?'" Zachery mutters distractedly, before getting immediately sidetracked — finding a mystery bottle of clear liquid, he lifts it up onto the bar in the hopes of catching some light in which to read anything on its worn and faded label. "This might be water. Might be vodka. Might be lighter fluid."

He reaches back, nimble fingers snatching up a pair of shot glasses and landing them squarely onto the bar with the clank of glass against cheap wood. Only then does he look up at Harry properly again, with possibly too much familiarity, as he slides one of the glasses closer. "Let's find out."

The arch of Harry's brow indicates he's not heard of that particular saying before, but that's as far as he goes in indicating that. His eyes go to the bottle that Zachery's scrutinizing, determining that at least it doesn't appear to be bleach. Despite that, he doesn't seem keen on drinking.

"Let's not," he disagrees plainly, remnants of a smile still on him regardless. "I didn't come here to end up as a patient."

He tips his head to the rest of the bar, eyes never leaving Zachery. "Does this entrepreneurial endeavor of yours turn any profit?"

"Do I look like a man who turns a profit?" Zachery asks in response, shooting one more glance downward before twisting the cap off of the bottle and pouring a liquid that has the sheen of something other than water into Harry's glass, then his own.

Up close, a keen eye makes it fairly easy to tell that he's very clearly not a man of wealth, clothes clean but about as worn as his soul seems to be — rather, an imitation of quality hoping to stand out just above the rabble.

But confidence? This, he's got in spades today, be it because of this little reunion, the drinks he'd had prior, or quite possibly both. "Come on," he urges again, setting the bottle down and leveling an unwavering stare at Harry before lifting his glass toward him. "Worst case scenario, I'll drive you to the hospital and all. You look like you have more than enough money to survive the scandal of a stomach pumping unscathed."

The shotglass set before Harry is lifted in return, and the scent of it when he wafts it closer to his nose confirms if it's not the firewater that he'd been asking for, it's something near enough to it. He levels a look across the bar at Zachery in return for the stare he's given, and with a shake of his head, he takes whatever plan he had for how this reunion would go and tosses it over his shoulder.

Because fuck it, apparently they were drinking. And after the day he's had, he doesn't mind it.

Tossing the drink back, Harry squints briefly at the overwhelming taste of it and the burn that accompanies it, the shotglass hitting the cheap wood of the bartop a moment after. "All right, give me two for your one." He pauses to swallow again, like it'll clear the taste from his palate any sooner. "I'll do that catching up, and you do some slowing down before you turn into an unintelligible mess. I'll leave you slumped on this bar without a second thought if you become uninteresting, Miller." The shotglass is tapped on the bar to better indicate its need for a refill. "Don't think for a moment I won't."

That's the fucking spirit.

"I have been -" Zachery starts with his grin widening, all too gladly pouring Harry as much of a second serving as the little glass will take, "- many things, Harry. I've been an example, I've been trouble, I've been a reuniter of families, and a… well, a disappointment, to be quite honest with you, occasionally," he admits in lieu of something more clever, though it fails to put a dent in his mood. "But!"

Without missing a beat, he continues. "But not once in my life have I been uninteresting unless I was doing it on purpose. So." He knocks back his own shot, before running a knuckle past the corner of his mouth and aiming a look nothing short of defiant in the other man's direction. "What are you, today?"

Harry smiles in reply, wide and wry. "A herald," he proclaims simply. "Of opportunity and renaissance." The shotglass is lifted with care so as not to spill its precious contents. "But if I'm being honest?" He tosses the shot back quickly, swallowing immediately to avoid breaking his conversational cadence. "I'm a bit done with that for the day." he grimaces, a glance at Zachery to ask him if he'd not mind keeping that to himself without actually spending the effort of asking. The shotglass is rotated in his hand, set upside down on the bartop.

"Right now, I'm a man acting for his own benefit." is the addition to that, a cant of his head accompanying it as he looks to Zachery. He imagines the good doctor won't tattle on him. "Climbing the ladder, so to speak, without a damn given to who I use as a rung. Two cards for every encounter, a mask behind a mask. Which way will he go next— wherever the most favorable wind blows, of course." His words are airy, disaffected. If there's candor in them, it's marked by a thespian glare. Harry looks off to the side. "For all my balking, though, my current employer allows me certain freedoms I came to enjoy having during the war…" A knowing smirk pulls at the corner of his mouth as he looks back to Zachery. "And after."

His eyes narrow a tad as he thinks back to Zachery's list of things he's been, and how much he cares to compare their lists. He decides to stick with what's most important: "I've been a number of things, Miller, but one thing I'll never suffer is being bored."

Zachery seems all too happy to play the role of barkeep in Bruce's absence, reaching up and over to snatch up his empty beer glass from earlier to fill it with whatever was in it before from an unmarked beer tap off to the side. Whatever it is, it's a little flat. "Wiser words, Harry. Bored man's only a step away from the noose's cinch." Spoken confidently, as if this, too, is said frequently enough for him to have memorised it.

Once he's got a drink again, he leans back against a shelf of dusty, mismatched glasses of various shapes and sizes. "You know, I was thinking maybe meeting you again would clear some things up, but I'm starting to get the feeling I'm just going to be left with more questions." On that note — his voice drops a little lower, intrigue clear in the smirk on his face. "I'll get to the point. Do I owe you more than gratitude?"

The bark of laughter that comes from Harry is accompanied by a flash of canine in his grin. He takes a little too much enjoyment from the position a yes would impart. He lets the tension of the moment between question and answer linger just long enough to be felt.

"It's more fun if you give it willingly," he chides, stretching his arm away from him as he rests a hand on the side of the bar and leans into the observation. "And only useful to me if you have the time for it, Miller." Drawing a breath in through his nose, he contemplates Zachery for a long moment, applying a bit of elbow grease with that look. He rounds out the edges he sees, redresses him entirely, and tilts his head to apply a new light to it.

"So I'll ask you again, a bit differently this time— how attracted to this failing endeavor of yours are you? Do you see it, and by extension you, going anywhere at all?" His smile looks almost kind, save for that predatorial glint that had been lurking in it only moments before. "What would it take for you to walk away?"

"I know this talk," Zachery says with the conviction of someone grabbing a fistful of weeds to pull them up with roots still attached, like he may as well do so every day, "but this marionette's got quite a lot of strings already."

He laughs, the sound escaping him suddenly and like the drink is more in control than he'd given it credit for so far. His chin goes up, and his free arm is lifted to shoulder-height as if suspended from an invisible thread by the wrist. "Dead excuse for a clinic around my neck," next, he nods toward his wrist, "promising position at Raytech Industries."

His other arm comes up, beer and all, abrupt movement bringing the liquid to a swirl that narrowly avoids spilling over the rim of the glass. "And, ah - a… big fish benefactor who I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss. You understand how adding another tie might start to feel a lot like drawing and quartering, yes?"

Then again, for how Zachery's still practically beaming as if this is exactly the environment he thrives in, maybe he doesn't understand very well, himself.

"Well, I didn't go through all that trouble of keeping you alive to run you into an early grave," Harry allows, eyeing each string for what it's worth. The clinic must be a passion project, Raytech for the money, and the other topic…

Well, Zachery was ex-Institute. It'd not surprise him if Doctor Miller couldn't let a few things go, just the same as Ace Harry himself could not.

"You'll have to keep me updated when one of your strings get cut loose. Or hell, when you pull away from your puppeteer." Harry spins the shotglass on the surface of the bar as he stands upright again. "I've got something in mind that might make your noose and wire situation feel a little less like living in the stocks."

"But I won't force you," he reminds. "To me, it's important this isn't something born of fear or twisted arms. Long-term relationships like those usually end with bullets exchanged, and I already said I'd be loathe to put you down."

A thought passes over him, accompanied with a smack of his lips. Tsking, he flips the shotglass back over, reaching for a bar napkin to wipe the rim down with. "Speaking of which… I never checked back in to know. How much more did the caged bird sing after he was stabbed?" Harry sets the glass upright. Another round, please.

Almost as soon as he's listening and not talking, Zachery begins to drain that conveniently nearby glass of half its contents, limbs sinking back into a more natural position where he stands leans against the shelves.

Something spoken, though, tenses his brow for just a moment. By the time the subject of time in prison crops back up, any concern seems to slip away. "Enough, I should think." A heaviness lingers on his words for memories best left in the past. "As for what I told them about you, specifically…"

He moves in again, sets his glass aside, grabs the mystery bottle by the neck, and fills both of their shotglasses to the rim. His own first, then Harry's. "Actually. First. A question of my own." He lifts his gaze, head angled to recenter his monocular view just slightly. "Why me?"

Harry watches Zachery fill himself a shot after shotgunning the beer and waits politely for him to finish pouring the second. Then, he reaches delicately across the bar to slide both directly in front of him. He chuckles, lifting the first shot to tip it back gracefully, no extra effort expended. Then he simply waits, fingers still pinched around the second. "You were a job, Miller. One that turned out to be more interesting than not." His brow lifts as he looks down at the drink, no grimace for the taste or the topic now. He keeps his voice at a purr that lies below the conversations of others, the only sign of his discretion. The smile he wears as he looks back up is open. "The people who were trying to have you killed did a sloppy job at keeping it to themselves. 'Kill the Institute songbird,' they said, which invited those interested in the opposite of that happening to engage in countermeasures."

Picking up the shotglass, he lifts his index finger off of it to gesture back at Zachery. "If you'd have died, all those lingering cases might have seen their witnesses clam up. Or so went the worry."

Head tilting back just slightly, Harry looks thoughtful. "Then you turned out to be something else, Miller. You could've used a hair more self-preservation, but attempting to look out for your fellow man… that really was endearing." He sighs, the shotglass still held before him loosely. His other hand finds the pockets of his slacks. "Something unexpected."

With a smirch of his tongue off his palate, he looks back to Zachery. "The second time we spoke, all I'd meant to do was check in on you and make sure they hadn't strangled you in your cell yet. At most, follow you out to see who was paying you more mind than they should, so I could in turn keep an eye on them." With a huff of a breath that's heavy with the taste of the alcohol that's beginning to burn in him, he remarks, "Then you went trying to make sense out of my whole being there."

A shot stolen! A travesty. Fortunately, Zachery's got enough alcohol in his system already to the point of where he not only doesn't seem to give a shit, he's content to let it happen without even breaking eye contact.

"'Endearing', are those fighting words? I think they just might be." He squints in consideration, becoming visibly ever less the stand-in bartender and ever more the fool with the lopsided and overly confident grin who will be overcharged on his tab later. He keeps the slurring at a minimum, but as if by way of counterbalance, his accent cuts a little more sharply into his words.

"You were of use to me," he stresses, then gestures dismissively off somewhere to the side. "I needed contacts. I'd have taken close to anyone, but you sat at my table, didn't you? And you could string a sentence together, sometimes two or three! That comes in handy when you don't want to die of fucking monotony."

Harry lets out the rumblings of a chuckle. "A distraction you could have twisted to your benefit." he agrees. "If only you had been able to profit from it. I'd say sorry for it, but I don't think I owe you anything, do I." He hms at that, tapping the side of the stolen shot with his index finger.

"You're a curious player lurking in the wings, Miller. Tell me more about you. If you could be doing anything about now, what would it be?" His brow lifts to lend a hint to the interest he takes in the answer. He still holds onto that shot without drinking, the same way he recalls Zachery hasn't answered his question from before.

"I'd be right here!" Zachery lies like he has money riding on it, landing a hand on the bar and leaning ever so slightly closer in the process. "Keeping busy, making friends." His own face fights him on that last word, through a short-lived wrinkling of his nose and twitch of his brow.

"I'm barely six… months-" He falters, despite his expression still being frozen on something just a hair short of delighted. A blink of a brain reboot later and he tries again, momentum carrying and shoulders squared: "I'm barely six months out of prison, I've got a new job, pulled a stunner who I'm taking on real, actual dates, which has been great, and I'm great. I'm great."

Almost without pause, he adds, unblinking and tone gone flat, "Why do you ask."

Harry tosses back the second (well, fourth) shot instead of immediately answering. It's at this last drink that he finally lets out a whoof under his breath. That's possibly enough of that, now.

He clears his throat, a touch of reboot needed himself, it would seem. "Just looking for an opportunity to make things better, Miller. Can't very well sell you on anything if I don't know what…" Harry's expression flattens as he barely resists making a noise he'd find to be displeasurable. "… what you're after."

With a twinge of a frown, he looks back to Zachery. "But great's fine, I suppose, as long as you keep my card and call me when you figure out what would make it better." Setting the empty glass down, he adds in an offhanded tone, "Or, I guess, when things are merely good and you're wanting to get back to great."

Harry chuckles to himself at that.

"Joke's on you," Zachery answers, something strangely akin to pride making its way onto his face as he lifts it, "I don't know what I'm after either!"

This pride is probably misplaced a little.

"They've got your name, by the way." He adds, barely waiting to switch the subject and grabbing the Mystery Bottle to lift it up to peer through the glass and at the contents like he might be considering something unwise. "That's all they got, I think, because that's all I knew, wasn't it."

Something's incredibly funny, because there goes Harry's ability to keep a straight face. He laughs openly, his head tilting back. The sound carries at an uncomfortable volume. For a man who was so worried about blending in when he first met Zachery, it's clear whoever he is now has no qualms about standing out.

"Oh no, a first name and a year in lead time. Whatever will I do?"

And then he laughs again at the absurdity of it.

"Oh, that's rich," Harry sighs, moisture prickling the corner of his eyes. He shakes his head ruefully. It's unclear if he's amused either at what Zachery's said of him to the feds, or that he doesn't know quite what it is he wants, either. "But not entirely unexpected."

There's no such outward amusement from Zachery, who looks to Harry with the look of someone who's struggling not to laugh along. But no, this - despite the fact that he can't keep the grin off of his face - is SERIOUS, HARRY.

"Hey, I could be a narc!"

Okay, maybe not that serious.

"Think about it." He continues, canting his head as though this should all be oh so obvious, pointing the nearly empty bottle at Harry, "I waited patiently, got you to come here with my smooth talking, which is my specialty, as you well know, from having talked to me. And then I loosened your tongue, got you to tell me…" Suddenly, he freezes, mouth still open but speech faltering. Until, a moment later, "Yeah, alright, you've told me basically fuck all, haven't you."

Fine, now he'll laugh, arms going wide with a shrug, bottle and all. There was an attempt.

The look Harry fixes Zachery with is nothing short of patronizing. There was an attempt, all right. He tsks and looks off just long enough to dig back through his memory. "Well, Miller, at least with me, you know what you'll get. I will absolutely use you for my own benefit, and I'll tell you straight to your face. As far as company goes, you could do much worse than me."

That might sound familiar.

His smirk returns, accompanied by a gleam of his eye. With an arch of his brow, he clarifies, "So it has been— and will continue to be— in your best interest to not jeopardize that relationship. I'm sure you're bright enough to know just how that might be done."

Flimsy facade dropped, a sharpness returns to the way Zachery eyes Harry. Recognition reaches just past the fog of inebriation upon hearing his own words spoken back at him, head angling upward with an almost pained chuckle. "'Bright enough'," he repeats in turn, after a silence settles over the bar again. "I get the feeling that's about as complimentary as you get."

He looks like he's about to say something else, but a turn of his head indicates attention has been drawn just over Harry's shoulder.

Bruce's heavy footfalls announce his arrival long before he gets anywhere close to the bar — a mountain of a man with a matching lack of fucks given for who might be in his path. Zachery sidesteps just in time to avoid getting trampled, lifting the bottle for the actual bartender to snatch away as he passes. After putting it away, the glasses on the bar are collected without a word, dunked into a sudsy sink.

"Thanks, Brucey Bruce." Zachery offhandedly says the man who has no interest in replying, then looks back to Harry and grins. "Look at me. Do I seem capable of ruining anything?" Asks the man with a missing eye and a drinking habit to show for a life of mistakes. The man Harry met in prison. "I don't think so."

At Zachery's apparent discomfort, Harry couldn't look less concerned. If anything, he seems to be a man who understands that not all knives are made of metal, and he's happy to wield ones made of words for the sake of plucking others' strings.

"You wound me," he says at the observation about his demeanor, not sounding particularly wounded at all. "I happen to be a very kind and compassionate human being, given the chance to know me." The flinty look cast Brucey's way for interrupting their chat is absolutely anything but compassionate, though, Harry leaning a hand hard into the side of the bar with a breath out his upturned nose.

"Let's hope that's the case." Harry says more flatly than he intends to. It lulls into a lighter, "I do enjoy these little chats with you, after all."

Another heavy sigh follows, his eyes finding Zachery's singular one. "What do you think?" he asks with that same lightness. "Another round?"

Zachery scoffs, as though the notion of enjoyment in itself is a fallacy.

And yet. Another chuckle follows it, in spite of himself. When he starts to move again - fingertips trailing on the edge of the bar - he wanders right back the stool he was sitting in earlier, climbing back onto it to assume the role of regular patron.

"Another round."

Harry does look pleased at the development, intent on going nowhere until he flares his arm out by his side, checking his watch on pulling it back in. Then he sucks in a short breath to mask his disappointment. "… Ah." he announces, as if it were a realization of no importance. He blinks a look back to Zachery as he settles onto the barstool, hand dipping inside his jacket to snare a bill hiding there.

The fifty hits the bartop crisp enough it stands where it lands, tented by the crease down the middle of it. And Harry sighs.

"Another time, actually," he reports resignedly. "Raincheck?"

He doesn't wait for a reply, just smiles charmingly as his appearance swipes left into nothing, the only sign he'd been there at all the fifty still left on the bartop.

Zachery's gaze darts to the fifty dollar bill, and is still on it when Harry disappears entirely.

When he looks up and finds no one there, his brow knits. Then relaxes. Then knits again with a sneer, followed shortly by a bitter laugh. He looks to Bruce next, who stares straight back at him with no visible recognition of what may have just happened.

"Bruce," Zachery starts, voice grimly serious and words finally starting to sink into a drunk slur when he continues, "I'd like you to know that I would never, ever disappear on you." He grabs hold of the beer glass he'd abandoned earlier, thrusting it forward.

Bruce takes it, offering a deadpan, final note.

"Not while you still owe me rent."

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