Cat(s) About Town


dumortier_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Cat(s) About Town
Synopsis Sometimes you just need someone to show you around town - and possibly to offload some moral dilemmas on.
Date August 12, 2019


The thing about Providence versus the Safe Zone is that the former is a sharp degree more independent; its locals are rather self-sufficient, but as a community they are just as well knit- - if not more. One mister Dumortier fits right into the status quo; he has the benefit of already having been a part of things before the settlement relocated cross-country. And Zachery has heard aaalllllll about it. It's a necessary evil. Backstory. History. Hierarchy. The drill.

Though he hasn't given much in the way of explanation of the Remnant portion. He will leave that to a more capable person such as Kara. Maybe Chris. That would be priceless.

Wagon clicking along, Rene sits atop, hands on the reins and Arrius plods onward. The dirt road isn't unfamiliar to Zachery, but he's not seen it from a carriage before. There is a lot more to look at. A lot more passerby to study. Glimpses into everything.

"Usually the market alternates stalls day to day," Braided blonde hair tucked along his back, sun on fair features and bare arms, Rene seems rather alive. Maybe he's actually a plant. Or maybe just… enthusiastic. "But I stick to once a week, or bi. The rest of the time, I work on other things or on my stock. Never bored."

Which is what the wagon is filled with- - salvaged items, appliances, tools, parts, supplies, a gamut that can only be collected by someone willing to go far into what used to be civilization out here, and even around the city. Rene excels at what he does, can't deny that.

If Zachery excels at anything right now, then it is at looking dreadfully out of place. He's sitting beside Rene, as far out on his end of the seat as he could comfortably sit, shoulders hunched up and hands gripped onto the seat on either side. He hasn't been complaining, per se, though Rene likely knows how to read between the lines well enough to pick up on the discomfort that paints his passenger's queries.

"I'm never going to make it to the market." Said matter-of-factly. "Do they do deliveries?" He shoots a skeptical look sideways at Rene, sans fake eye. He's lost it somewhere again, maybe. "Can I pay someone extra to drop off some meat, starch and veg once or twice a week, so I don't have to let people get to know my face?"

Fully knowing the level of stressful this is, Rene hasn't tried to scoot over to schmooze up and tease him. Yet. It could still happen. But right now, he is more intent on explaining the run of things, casual as can be. The question of deliveries earns a small laugh, and a shrug.

"You could probably convince someone to do it for you, sure? Plenty of people who wouldn't mind pocketing something." The shrug makes sense now. It's a big maybe. The market is up ahead, and they can pick out the different foods and wares from a short distance. "Still… ah, might get bored and come anyway. Once in a while we'll get a tradesman passing through."

Not long after this, Rene tugs up on the wagon and turns to find a space to 'park'. Enough space for everyone. There are even a pair of Amish buggies tacked up along a stall of corn and baked goods. Look, Pie.

"Me, bored? Did you also veer into a career as a comedian while I wasn't looking?" Zachery asks, perking up a little once he realises it's almost time to get off this ride and back onto solid ground.

Leaning awkwardly to the side to try and figure out how to actually do that, he launches into another small ramble, words tumbling out one after the other, "I've got several big projects at work, smaller things on the side, two personal projects that I'd really like to keep abreast of — and then… speaking of, also a girlfriend. Who, some might argue, should be showing me around instead of you. But this way, I get to feign more independence. Ooh, pie."

At least he seems less self-conscious about his ramble than usual? Maybe it's the pie.

"Mhmmm." Rene's response to the other man's ramblings is a distinctly noncommittal sound. He hops down with no trouble, eyes the trepidation on Zach's side. Getting up is easier than getting down. "Sounds like you have your hands full." is what comes next, complete with smarmy face and all, as he moves to offer Zachery a hand to the ground. "So, what, I'm not good enough a tour guide? Too safe? Not pretty enough? Bet she doesn't know all the things that I do."

It's not a competition until it sort of is. Rene is definitely yanking his chain, though. Out of love, honest.

"Maybe you can buy one." As an aside to pie. "And then proceed to eat all of it, because yes- - they are that good."

Zachery, pointedly ignoring the hand, makes his way down, even if it's with the elegance of a doberman falling backwards out of the trunk of a car. Once he's off the cart, he moves away immediately, patting down his sides in an absentminded gesture, head swiveling to get a good look around.

Despite obvious unfamiliarity with his environment, confidence returns to him a little more easily when he's able to straighten up and move of his own accord. Maybe a little more easily than it has, lately. "I think we both know that she knows some things you don't." This is not lingered on, for reasons. "Maybe I should get her a pie. I owe her one, and possibly a few apologies."

Possible more than. Though if he's worried about that, it doesn't show.

When the offered hand is ignored, Rene just hooks both on his pockets and watches the climb down with a clear apprehension. Mostly just to make sure that he doesn't actually land on his face.

"Yeah, suuure she does." Zachery gets a sing-song kind of reply, his companion popping the hinge on the back of his wagon and pulling out a pair of bricks to brace under the rear wheels. Rene lets his buddy get his bearings in the meantime, watching out of the corner of his eye while he unhitches Arrius's harness.

"If you think she'd like a pie, that sounds like a good start." In all seriousness. Blonde head sticks out from around the horse's chest, the big nose of the animal already tipped downward to snuffle it. "I say start for a reason. You've got to use your words too, god forbid."

Other than baked goods, this place otherwise seems like a more rural Red Hook Market, though also a lot more… transient? Everything looks like it can be packed away with minimal effort.

Something said seems to give Zachery pause, and he stops his slow wander forward as his gaze hardens. Out of seemingly nowhere, he turns on a heel, spreading his arms with a slightly too-sudden grin. The tonal shift in his mood is exaggerated even more when he cheerily announces, "No, you know what, no apologies. I'm - done with those. They've never done me any good, so…" The end of that sentence disappears with a shrug.

Look how chipper. Maybe he's accepted this as his new home already! If only Rene didn't know him better.

Yeek. Rene leans back a little at the fling of arms, though he laughs a moment later. He can absolutely see that it's a ploy at making himself seem 'larger'. A brow lifts back at him.

"I can get with that." There are a few people that Rene chooses that for, he can't judge anyway. He stops to lead his horse to a small patch of grass, where others are milling quietly. When he angles back he flashes a grin. "Need anything for your new place? Have you sorted that out yet? I don't care if you want to take your time, my couch isn't going anywhere."

"And between you and me… I can hook you up with some power no problem. I try not to advertise it if i don't have to." Everyone would want in. He clearly uses it as a currency. "But I hear Raytech is nice to its employees, so…"

It's hard to determine how much he knows, but at least the basics.

"I have absolutely no idea!" Zachery answers, turning back around to eye some wares nearby as his arms drop back down - but notably staying outside of what he considers to be 'people might speak to me about said wares' distance. "We'll find out, won't we. I promise, once I know what I'll need for my Amish-flavoured IKEA trip, you'll be the first to find out." One of his shoulders gives a twitch. "If I need anything."

He blinks, expression still on a somewhat frozen grin - a little lopsided, and moreso for the missing eye. For an additional comment, his tone of voice stays the same, even its his volume is dialed back just a pinch. "Since if I'm not careful, furniture may be very kindly provided for me."

Zachery is all discombobulated but his friend is not. Rene accepts the reaction at face value even if he wants to snort in response. Okay, okay.

The wagon they came in is just far enough to not compete for space, and lets Rene pop out some chairs from the back - they'll be chilling, nothing big. Zach doesn't even have to deal with people, just get a feel for them. He can do that better than anyone, really. In fact, a young woman rolls up to Rene not long after he offers Zach a chair and a, "Want a drink?"

He turns when she grabs his attention, and there's a short exchange of words, then she's smiling and stepping away, fingers waving. Something about an order of hers. For Zach, there's at least one interesting thing about her - her weight distribution is odd, and her bones are way too dense.

If there is something reassuring… Zach won't be alone when it comes to off-grid evolved?

Zachery retreats toward the cart again, extra energy from somewhere lengthening his stride. He does not so much as glance at the woman, though a thoughtful knit of his brow still results from something gleaned. There's no answer to Rene's question. Maybe it's assumed to be rhetorical.

He focuses on the seats while Rene is occupied, then reaches to clasp a hand over the top of one of them, waiting for the woman to leave earshot before saying, "I don't mean…" For a moment, his voice is a little more subdued, but his breath catches in his throat and steals the words away. Uncomfortable with the silence that follows, he lifts his gaze to Rene's, and asks, a little might brightly, eyebrows popping up, "What did she want?"

Rene pivots back to his previous post with fussing around with the wagon, pensive for a breath before lending Zachery a curious look.

Skipped questions are so common that they are just how things happen - Rene considers it and the tone before tucking it away. Instead he produces a metal thermos, shaking it idly while tipping his chin up at Zach.

"She hired me for something a few weeks back." The tiny agrokene fishes some mismatched cups from a small crate of them. Don't worry, he cleans what he finds. "I told her to get back to me if it worked out."

The thermos is taken without thought, as Zachery's expression relaxes somewhat. His free hand comes up to rub at the left side of his face while he watches Rene go about his rummaging, shoulders rolling back.

"You're about as much a part of this place as the weeds are, then." More of a statement than anything else. He unscrews the cap and angles the thermos just enough to try and get a peek at its contents. Whatcha bring.

Smells like sweetened tea, nothing day-drinky. He has work to do yet. Guaranteed that later he'll be in it to relax however he wants. Rene holds out a cup with a small coaxing nudge.

"I came here from the west with the crowd that took over down at the factory. I was months behind them, though. Caravan trails, fun shit." Which means that he came a long way back. And so did the rest of them. "So if I'm anything it's invasive." Rene issues a small laugh that catches a small snort in his nose, popping down into his own chair and sticking his feet out, ankles crossed. His talk is quiet, though not unexcited. He stays subdued about all of it; it takes on a mulling quality.

"Besides, mutual favors are a universal currency. She needed more field grazing space for her sheep. Guarantee I'll get dibs on something they give her." Noice. "Not much different from what I've always done."

After he's poured Rene some tea on auto-pilot, Zachery just… stays standing, listening. Something pulls at a corner of his mouth at the laugh, but with every breath, something less airy than the current conversation seems to grip his thoughts.

That doesn't mean he doesn't try to pay attention, eventually pouring himself some tea and sitting himself down in a chair of his own. Quite heavily, at that, leaning forward with his elbows jammed into his legs and his drink lazily dangled out in front of him.

Time for people watching, maybe. And also, "I may have killed someone."

It may be a good thing that daydrinking is off the table. For now people at the market seem far more interested in elsewhere. Rene lifts his brows, knitting them over a sip of his drink. He angles the same look over, head tipped.

"May have?" Usually you know, or you don't. Rene has to internally remind himself that not everyone handles it the same, either. Mngh.

"Do you want to talk about it?" He leaves the choice of continuing on this avenue up to Zach.

Whatever was left of Zachery's somewhat forced cheer is swallowed down along with some of his drink. After a brief squint at Rene, he turns his head and lets his eye settle on a stranger, then another, head dipping as he drags a breath in through his teeth.

"… May have." His voice is dragged a little lower, but not in volume. "She's… still alive, for now. And I'm considering something stupid. Trying to keep her that way."

Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Rene casts a brief look to the main drag before turning it back to Zachery. Says a lot about the previous notes of forced cheer since he showed up again. May have, that's such a loaded state in itself.

"So this is someone you know?" Gleaning this much is the easy part. It's the rest that he hesitates on. "Okay. Alive is good. That means you haven't." Killed anyone. Yet. He notably does not add the last part. "What constitutes something stupid? What exactly… happened?" Rene also avoids a distinct flavor of 'what did you do' as he asks this.

And yet, something about the way it isn't phrased still draws a dry chuckle from Zachery, who lifts a hand to press it tiredly to the side of his face instantly afterward. Whatever thing his amusement stems from also serves to bring something more pained to his tone. "I stole something from work. An exceedingly risky thing to do. And I gambled — we gambled, with injecting it into her. She thought it might… help her live forever."

His head lowers more, gaze finally dropping to a bit of dirt in front of him. Hesitantly, yet loud and clear, he adds, "I knew it wouldn't."

The tale proves difficult to believe, for several reasons entirely. Why seems to preface most of them. Maybe they aren't important enough clarifications, because Rene just files them for now, instead adjusting his position on his seat and leaning Zach's way, one leg slinging over the other in a minimal effort to seem private about it.

One, it's good that he didn't do this on his own, which would have been a whole other can of worms. Two, the resulting situation is the first can, and the worms are everywhere.

"Live forever? What kind of- - I don't know anything that would even do that." Baffled, at the moment. "Why did you do it if you were sure it wouldn't?"

"Because I thought it might be interesting?" Honestly, Zachery doesn't sound quite sure about that one either. Straightening, he glances in Rene's direction. What he finds causes him to sit back in his chair, breathe out a hiss of a sigh, and - after a thoughtful swirl of liquid - to drain his cup of tea in one go. This lack of day drinking honestly is a shame.

"I've made some - strange friends. Acquaintances. Aside from work." A dry swallow later, and a tapping of fingertips on his leg, and he adds, calmly, "I thought maybe this one was one I wouldn't miss."

Not that he sounds particularly heartbroken.

The day drinking might well come later, which wouldn't make it much of a daytime thing. But it's floating around on Rene's mind. He gives Zachery a more discerning look at his admission, brows knit again. The look just deepens when he follows up. Mm.

"That's a bum reason to do human testing, if you ask me." Just putting that out there. It's an honest observation. "Is she not a friend, just one of those acquaintances? Is this regret talking, or are you just afraid you'll get caught?" One hand reaches up to tug the band on blonde braid loose, the pull of it just a little too annoying while his head fills with all of this. Fingers thread through to fix just that. "You said you wanted to try something stupid. Do I want to know? I mean… there's not a lot of options there."

If the criticism wounds Zachery in any way, it doesn't show. Once more, his attention returns to others in the area. Except for the fact that he's still holding onto that cup, and his grip on it tightens on the word 'caught'.

"I feel like she could have been a friend." Either he's already declaring her dead, or just oblivious about the current state of affairs. "Letting her die might be the least stupid option here. That's what I meant earlier. With the furniture thing. They don't let you have a nice, custom made bedside table in prison, do they."

A tiny bit of both, then.

"If you feel like she could have been, she probably already is." Sorry to break it to you, Zachery, but that's sometimes how it works. Even them, it was just sort of- - happenstance that started it all. Rene is smart enough to avoid continuing on the path that discusses prison; if not for his friend, than himself as well. He's come close once or twice, but that was when he had friends in high places.

Before there's time to add a thought onto that, they've got a visitor; granted, they don't stay for terribly long- - it's a young man checking to see if Dumortier's found any certain parts. Being the consummate professional, Rene murmurs a gentle 'excuse me' and takes care of it. Trade gets him some crisp-looking bills for a netting bag of bulbs and some parts. Smells like garlic, even from here.

Gotta keep away those robot vampires and all.

"If you want my opinion- -" Rene sits back down, thumbing money in his hand and stashing it in a pants pocket. "- - which I am going to assume you do, given you're talking about it… You've got to be real with her and then, for fucks sake, find a healer or something if it's as bad as you think it is. Or another doctor with more experience in things like- - bio-experiments?" What do you even call this?

A mistake, is what.

"What do I do, leave her on a doorstep in a basket, with a note that says, 'please take care of me'?" The subject of friends sees Zachery having melted further back in his seat by the time Rene returns to his. For that same reason, probably, the garlic-buyer gets a glare on his way out of sight.

After that, he smacks a hand over his brow and just leaves it there, fingers digging into cheekbone. "I keep thinking I've run out of fucks to give, and finding more in the - god damn - bloody lining lining of my fucking pockets." Years away from home make the somehow still habitual choice of words sound like an unnatural mixture, but not for lack of genuine frustration. "It's like lint."

"Do what you've got to do, even if it means a doorstep and a basket." Rene's answer lacks any degree of fierceness- - he's more cautious about Zachery than he is the mystery woman. Blue eyes rest on Zach's face buried in his hand, and the laments of a guy who keeps thinking he's done with everything. If they weren't out here this would go differently from here on, but they are, and Rene is keenly aware of his surroundings.

"It can be." Like lint. While he's not consciously brave enough to scoot his seat closer, subconscious shifts the plant of his foot and the angle of his lean. Rene watches him still, eyes bright in the August daytime. "I thought I did too. I mean- - I didn't and still don't play nice. Shit happened and I was just… It made sense to not care. The only thing I could control, maybe? I don't know,"

"It didn't change overnight. It took time to give a shit again. Maybe you shouldn't fight it so hard. Takes a lot of fucking energy that's better used elsewhere." Say, for example, making sure this not-friend doesn't die instead of living forever.

Maybe Zachery's died too, in the meantime, because he hasn't moved for a while, hand still on his face while the rest of his limbs stay put courtesy of gravity alone, gone sort of awkwardly limp.

There is a silence that hangs between them. Maybe the noise of the nearby hustle and bustle, subdued as it is, can be enough for a bit. At the very least until Zachery lifts his hand enough to look at Rene - palm still on the empty socket while he peers through fingertips, and says, "… Can you do me a favour?"

As someone who understands the silence, Rene lets it simmer; he briefly leaves Zachery to it to take care of some of his business. Nobody seems to be paying the other, more troubled of the two much attention. That's one good thing about Providence. There is a respect for privacy that doesn't quite exist back home. No staring, no interruption, just a moment of acknowledgment and back to minding one's own.

Rene has been sitting for a short time when Zachery finally peers out. He lifts a look back, waiting for whatever is next. Hm.

"Probably." It's not a joke answer, "What do you need?"

The fact that he understands just makes it worse. Somehow.

"Pretend this talk didn't happen." The request leaves Zachery with his eyebrows lowering, the stare over at Rene growing a little colder. "I'll get back to it. I'll figure out whether the reason this Shrödinger's cat is not answering her phone is the reception or… the alternative, but for now, can you -"

He stops, lets the hand drop from his face, and uses it to gesture vaguely out toward some of the others gathered in the area. Minding their own business. "Tell me about them. This place. Yourself, if it's - necessary." A quiet scoff suggests that maybe he thinks it should not be. "For a bit."

Rene can play pretend. He makes a zipped lip gesture and lets his hand fall to rest. No need for cold when it comes to him. He's got it. The idle play of hand against cup accompanies thoughtful looks.

"I can do that." As a favour, and since Zachery asked so nicely. Despite the lack of conviction on asking, he'll go one face at a time. If Rene notices a particular interest in one - he can always elaborate. So that is exactly what happens for a time; between spells of trading, Rene gamely tells Zachery first about the people, then the place; he'll earn some names to faces he hasn't seen yet, and likely names to ones he has. There's also an informal hierarchy to note.

A lot of people who just don't want the rigor of the safe zone, and people that haven't known much besides this. It isn't until he skirts to his own presence that he starts slowing. Got shuffled around during the war, ended up west, came back with his people here- - it's the latter that gets cagey.

"If you see someone on a horse with a gun, it's probably one of the others." The migrants. "It's not a protection racket, just a mutual existence. And these people apparently needed it. Militias that want your shit aren't a joke. That's why I have so many traps set up around the edges of the woods."

Not all bandits are Robin Hood. "I do a wee bit of highway robbery myself, but, ah-" Rene laughs softly. "Only the ones that won't miss it."

"How can you tell they won't?"

Some time during the explanation, Zachery has melted further, one leg kicked out ahead of him as if it's planning an escape without telling the rest of his body. He may also have been somewhat grimly staring ahead of him for a bit, but now he sits up and levels an expectant look in Rene's direction, vague hint of a smirk pulling at a corner of his mouth. "Or do you just wait for someone with a monocle and a pet tiger in the back, on a gold leash, to drive by?"

He may, also, be stalling a little.

"Pfft. When you grow up scrounging, you can just see it." Rene answers a touch more bitterly than he ought to, though it's not exactly aimed at Zachery. Just… generally outward. "Not really about the mister Peanut getup. The ones that don't care about the rest of us- - conduct themselves differently." His eyes wander, and he spares a smile. It's all giving a wee glimpse into things he has only minimally discussed before.

"It's funny, my old boss had a tiger. No joke. He was a superpower but god, he was one of us once. Lifted people up."

With a roll and then a tightening of his jaw, Zachery listens. There's a certain discomfort that comes to the surface of his expression at the notion of 'caring about the rest of us'. It serves as fuel for him push himself up and back on his feet, head up high and chest out. Gee look at the time gotta go.

"I'm considering that a story owed." He stretches, sort of stiffly, as much an attempt at doing something casual in the face of underlying panic as getting ready for what is going to be a long car ride. Before he's off, a phone is pulled from his pocket, screen unlocked and stared at - though a knitting brow probably does enough to communicate the fact that he doesn't find what he might have been wanting to.

It's a mystery on what exactly he's said to edge Zach further from him, but all Rene can do is make a mental note of it. His brows knit to the other man, watchful.

"Alright… Well," Rene tips a look market-way and back, taking cues easily enough. "Thanks for coming along. Sometimes it's nice to have company." It's a gratitude for just his presence, which is already a bit flattering. He skims a look over the phone and the face made, just for a moment, wondering. "Let me know if anything happens with your lady friend, okay? If you need my help with…anything, you know how to reach me."

"Thank you. For showing me around." This is returned on auto-pilot, without thought, Zachery's attention still on his phone as he scrolls up before it's slipped into a pocket and his face lifts to Rene again.

He opens his mouth again, but hesitates - glancing briefly sideways before taking a slow step backwards and away. "I'd ask you if you knew how to bury a body," he starts in cheerful sing-song, with a wide grin and no attempt to lower his voice for those who might overhear, despite the nervous energy that threads itself through his tone, "but I think we both know that I might have the upper hand with that one."

He's joking. Yeah, gotta be. Don't worry about it.

Turning around, he raises one hand over his shoulder, to Rene, before going off on his lone adventure to find his car again. Byyee. "Visit me in jail!"

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