dumortier_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Connected
Synopsis Jesus is a blonde.
Date April 23, 2019

Park Slope

Park Slope is a narrow stretch of the Safe Zone that has thoroughly resisted attempts to reclaim it. Nearly all of Park Slope is completely overrun by wild and untamed plant life that spread out from Prospect Park in the decade following the Civil War. However, seven years of abandonment does not quite account for the abundant foliage that has spread across the neighborhood, pressing its way between tenement buildings, crawling up factories, and reclaiming entire streets. Safe Zone authorities speculate that there may be unknown SLC-Expressive residents within the neighborhood who are able to manipulate the plantlife, but have yet to uncover any proof of this. Due to massive structural damage and the presence of second-generation escaped zoo wildlife, much of the region has been left as parkland, and plans to form an official border around the wild and overgrown neighborhood are coming together. There is no electricity or public works in Park Slope, but in spite of this some Safe Zone residents have chosen to resettle in the area, bringing personal generators and occupying gorgeous — if somewhat overgrown — townhouses on the edge of this lush wilderness.

It has been a little over two weeks since Zachery was here. It was raining, then, where now it's dry. Noisy, where now everything is still.

Last time, he came here with a purpose. This time, he's not so sure.

He is also, coincidentally, lying on his back in a bush, staring up at the moon. He has been awake for 73.4 hours.

At least it's quiet here, smack dab in the middle of what once may have been a crossroads - now long fallen into disuse and abandoned, torn up into thick asphalt-laden chunks worn away by time and the greenery that's apparently insistent on swallowing this part of the city piece by piece.

Maybe that's why he's here - just waiting for it to do the same to him while he's sprawled out in what used to be a nice, clean, white dress shirt and black slacks, his form partially enveloped by a half crushed but very accomodating hydrangea that has fought its way through a dirt patch surrounded by concrete. The lack of focus showing on that stubbled face, however, seems very much to suggest that his reasons may not be quite so thought-involved.

There are times now when the remnants of the city are swallowed up by places like this. Not only physically. Park Slope provides a densely soundproofed space, trees and buildings in the way of what surrounds it. The only real chaos that makes noise enough is the unfortunate kind. Zachery is familiar, if only just.

He is probably far, far too gone to feel that he's being watched. The slew of wildlife here is typically the culprit. A rangy feral dog comes scouting and sniffing through the scrub, a fine example of what danger does remain. Moonlight is ambient through the canopy, sitting unhelpfully in Zach's vision like a silent eye.

While feelings may escape him, it is hard to miss the sound of paws and nose and a faint growl tiptoeing towards him.

The response to the noises does not only come slowly, but it comes in the largely useless form of Zachery slooowly sitting up, dragging that half-functional gaze away from the sky and down to the source of the disturbance. "Oh," he rasps out, deadpan, "hello dog."

He does not seem panicked, watching the approach with his head slowly angling to one side. Then, a few seconds later, after something other than his ears and eyes gives him enough of a reason to dig his fingers into the greenery below him, he adds, "… Oh, you're real." Then AGAIN, a beat later, spoken much louder in a frantic chuckle as every single one of his muscles seems to seize up, "Oh, shit."
The dog keeps its head low and tail ramrod straight; it's not a huge mutt, but it is definitely big enough to be a danger. It watches the man sit up with its beady black eyes, showing teeth and taking some wavering steps forward.

After a short consideration, the dog lunges at him and grabs the fabric of his pants, yanking hard and snarling.

Even if he wanted to move more quickly, lethargy shows clear as day in the way that Zachery does not, in fact, even get up. All he manages is kick a heel into the dirt and then up again, sending some stray leaves and dirt flying before his pantleg is seized. "Whoahwhoah — Hey HhhEY!" This is almost more laughed out than spoken, which is almost infinitely less useful than the gift adrenaline bestows on him when he, without thinking, folds forward and just straight up attemps to SLUG the dog with an accidentally twig-filled fist. "JESUS."

When the power of Christ compels you, you just do it. As evidenced by the swing and smack of the dog. Zach clocks it in the eye, though it doesn't let go; it drags him another foot before trying to switch and clamp down on the man's leg- -

- -which luckily for Zachery, does not actually happen.

For all of his bad luck of late, Zachery hasn't gotten much reprieve. When it looks like his luck has finally run out, the ground squirms.

Snakes burst out of the dirt- - no, they only seem so at first glance. Zachery's entire field of view is suddenly swarmed with fat, round leaves and bursts of white hydrangea flowers. The dog yelps, and goes head-over-tail as several of those brown snakes grab it around the leg and rip it away.

It doesn't come running back, crying its way into the brush.

Which is very fortunate indeed, since the yank at his leg causes Zachery to fall flat against the brush again, fist relenting for him to grab wildly around for purchase. Anything, a branch, something to yank himself back with, maybe — but his movements are too distressed, a lack of depth perception and severely compromised hand-eye coordination means he ends up with nothing but rough dirt and leaves. Until suddenly… there is that darkness.

He just… goes still. Leaves and flowers overhead, his shoulders and head thudding down where he lies, breathing rapid and eyes wide and brow crumpled. Searching upward, still, as though he moon itself - beyond the greenery - saved him. Once the cries have moved far enough away, there sounds simple and perhaps strangely charmed-sounding question of, "… 'M I dead?"

No, not dead. Not yet. The leaves haloing Zachery's vision offer no answer either, swaying quiet in the spring breeze, frozen still again. Pieces of it lose color and break off, wetly dropping against the ground. Something snaking creeps up his arm and abruptly prods him in the side of his face. The flowering bush bristles again, stems parting.

"Hey handsome." Drooping flowers are pushed up and aside, leaves following by virtue of attachment, a pale face easing into sight peering down at him.

There is a twinge of something on that sleep-deprived face at the apparent knowledge that his time has not yet come. Maybe it's disappointment. He barely even responds when he's prodded in the face, save for a brief and futile kick of the leg that was previously caught.

But whatever emotion he's experiencing quickly sinks back into the abyss that is his current state of mind when a voice comes to greet him, pulling his mouth into a straight line and sending those eyebrows right back down again to give this new face a critical stare with his head turning slightly to re-center his subject in his field of vision.

Still breathing hard through his nose, chest rising and falling sporadically, his voice cracks when he asks somewhat wildly, "… Excuse me, what?" To all of it, presumably.
Boots scuff against dirt, the haze of indistinctness moving off when that face gets closer still. Searching, first. Finding the working eye in Zachery's skull, second. Two of aquamarine examine him critically, the rest focusing once the owner is still. Pieces of platinum hair reflect white in the nighttime.

"Calme-toi, d'accord…?" The answer isn't really one. Knees hit dirt beside his head, a small hand coming to land against the width of his sternum. The second reply is just as soothing. "Ssh. Take a breath."

The French words register with a twitch of Zachery's functioning eye. But they don't seem to be doing much of anything, or at least not quickly enough. When the English words come, though, recognition shows a lot more clearly in the way his eyebrows come up and stay there.

One would think that 'take a breath' would be an easy enough suggestion to follow. And maybe it is — Zachery's breathing slows as he exhales… only for it to speed up again when he just starts laughing, in what looks like partially uncontrolled bursts, fingers on one side of his body clawing into the dirt beside him as the other arm comes up to lazily swipe an elbow toward his saviour. Get outta here. "I— know you," he breathes, between slowly dwindling chuckles of apparent madness, trying to roll himself onto his side. At least he manages, before he promptly throws up.

Hey, coffee's good for soil, right.

Laughing isn't exactly what was expected, but the tiny saviour does not appear shocked by it. No answer for the rolling and lolling and sniggering in the dirt. Thankfully he doesn't drown in his vomit. Yet.

"…You are still ridiculous." Rene pushes back onto his feet, heavily treaded boots stamping around to sneak small arms under one of Zachery's, the slithering coil of a root spiraling 'round waist before both lever him upwards.

"What do you mean, still? Wait, what do you mean, ridic… get off— oop." Words leave Zachery much like his stomach contents did, all at once and with blatant disregard for anyone nearby. But though he tries to pull away, it's too little and too late, and he's hoisted up onto his feet without much trouble.

Once he's upright again, he doesn't look much better. One of his arms comes up to swipe at his mouth, but stops just short, so that he can stare at it with some amount of confusion. "Where'smycoat," is mumbled under his breath, as his attention lowers to the ground, where there is - notably - not a coat to be found.

His eye lands back on this not-stranger shortly after, his arm dropping back down like it weighs twice as much as it does. "Rene Dumortier." The name is spoken with a familiarity, but not a fondness. "It's been…" Some time.

It brings Rene too much joy to listen to the attempts at parsing a reaction to that. While the plant keeps hold as if Zach were a doll on a shelf, the smaller man steps back, half-admiring the state of him. It takes a lot of commitment to end up this way.

"Mhm." It's been a long one. Rene doesn't say it either; they both know. Then and Now are pretty far apart.

"Nice to know you remember me, Doctor Miller." Pointedly using the proper address. First. A sharptoothed little smile flashes, and Rene amends. "Zachery."

Commitment, it seems, it what Zachery is lacking at the moment. He seems unsteady on his feet, weight shifting as if to catch his balance despite being held onto. When Rene steps back, it gets a look, but one that seems suspiciously… empty. Like his thoughts have gone elsewhere already.

The title brings life back to his face, his head lifting ever so slightly, but only for a moment. What's left of his amusement fades to something a little more bitter. "… Yeah. No one calls me that anymore." Not a correction so much as idle, quiet confirmation, shoulders dropping down. He turns his head, looking for… something? Like he's only just remembering where he is. "Isn't it funny how some days, everything makes sense, and others…" That's the end of that sentence, it seems.

He earned the title, as far as that is concerned. Rene simply watches the shift and fade of his words and focus, and it's becoming much clearer that there is something far more wrong than say, drunk as a skunk.

"Yeah. Funny." The end of the remark may not be there, but the notion is. He gets it. The now huge flowering bush gets a ruffle and a yank, Rene pulling free a handful of broad leaves and closing in on Zach to wipe that gross mess off his face. "Hold still."

"I forgot you could do that so well," says Zachery thoughtfully of the expanding greenery, once his attention drifts back over to it. "GghRhNFNO," he says much less passively, of the subsequent attempt to put leaves on his face.

He pulls back, only to find that he's still got a vine around him, and quickly lifts lightly trembling hands up and between Rene's face and his own, straightening up as far as he can before - one arm still outstretched - plunging the lower half of his face into a drawn up shoulder with a weak look of defiance pulling at the corners of his mouth when he faces his once-saviour-now-captor again and slurs out, "Wouldyoumind."

Flailing and grumbling is very unbecoming. Rene stands there with a handful of hydrangea leaves and a stifled laugh as the older man smears his face off on his shirt. The leaves shift between slender fingers and find themselves stemming back together, buds appearing and popping out in silky white flowers just when it gets stuck in Zach's face.

"Suit yourself." It's a gift, apparently, the spray tucked into a buttonhole. The root loosens up and unravels to the ground, sliding its way back.

In comparison to Rene's movements, Zachery cuts an all too jagged one, especially when he's freed. Immediately, he takes one step back, elbows out and shoulders squared back, stance wide to make up for lingering instability. Where there might otherwise be gratitude, if he were a better man, there is instead something between a confused grin and a sneer. Though maybe not necessarily at Rene, considering that the next thing he says is, "I'm not entirely sure how I got here."

With his newfound freedom - and after a quick, poorly executed patpat of his midriff through his shirt, he ponders aloud, "You're here, though, right? Yes. Yes you are. What else, whatelse…" Sleep deprived ramblings carry his thoughts elsewhere again, and his feet do much the same for his body as he turns and starts to wander away with the grace of a giraffe down a spiral staircase. "I remember… last night. Had things to do, met with snobby Dr. Yeh— HhK!"

That is, apparently as far as his feet take him, before he trips over his own damn self and falls sideways. Fortunately away from where he threw up, before, though he still lands hard. Hard enough to stay down, apparently.

Rene stands back when he releases the man from binding, crossing arms in front of his slim frame and picking up a cocky stance as he watches the ensuing scene. Anything Zachery says is regarded with silence and a stare, the blond listening to the rambling.

No roots are there to help him out this time; Zachery hits the dirt with a thud. Rene strolls the short distance past his head, looking down as he circles.

One boot goes out to give the bigger man a small shove. No? Out? Okay.

One small shove later, and Zachery rolls face down into the dirt, dirt-smeared and twig-covered. 73.5 hours in, he is out.

"Oh, vous pauvre chose." Arms uncross with a sigh. Rene asseses everything around with a swivel of head, plucking a series of decisions out of thoughts. Stepping back, Rene lifts his hands, palms level to the ground and fingers loose. A shimmer moves through his eyes, a flinty look just before tangles of roots come snaking back.

Rene leans over to dig his hand into a knot of dirt, root, and invasive vine. The latter crawls faster, but as soon as he has a handful they warp and grow larger. Some of them lay across his shoulders like lazy pets, tucked around him to stay in place.

Plants take their time in wrapping Zachery up like a spider might a bug, flipping him over in the process. Once they have him, Rene starts walking; once the slack lessens, the plants pull him behind like a sled, leaves and stems and knotted wood spackling the surfaces of his roots.


A Motel in Phoenix Heights

If nothing else nice can be said about Zachery, then at least let it be a known fact that he does not snore. Though perhaps this could be attributed more to exhaustion than anything else. He maintains his unconscious state through movement, through a variety of noises, and plenty of jostling. It's almost poetic, then, that the thing that should wake him is the light of a new day filtering in through a motel window, making its way in past crappy curtains and cheap glass to paint dust particles along a line leading directly onto the bed.

A bed in which Zachery finds himself, on his back, slowly stirring, mouth partway open and his face buried deep into a pillow. Not the most gracious sleeper - kicking out a leg and pulling a fistful of rough textured blanket up toward his head. Fuck off, light. I'm in a fucking bed. It's great. Good night forever.

The blanket doesn't have a lot of slack, and that's because there's someone else hogging half of it. Fortunately it doesn't take much to rouse them, and the kicky-leg isn't helping.

A shadow blots out the light as Rene blinks awake, elbows propping him back up. The block of sun makes a silhouette of a profile and blonde hair which has partway escaped its tie at the back.

Ah. Right. This is what he's doing.

At least the bed smells like greenery and hydrangea instead of stale air and dust. A small consolation.

A few things occur to Zachery. One, he's in a bed. This in itself, slowly but surely, brings his eyebrows creeeeping down, for how unusual of an occurrance it is.

Number two, there's… a person there, also on the bed that he is on. This part is even rarer. His eyes open with a start, and instinctively his hand is brought to the left side of his face as if to wave something away from in front of it— only to find nothing there, and to find his clothes still on. Then… he freezes. Thinking. Desperately. Trying blearily to remember the path he took to get here, face not leaving that pillow.

A few seconds later he sounds a quiet, defeated, "Did you have to stay, really."

It's a little fascinating, watching someone else wake up. Sometimes peaceful. Sometimes panic. In this case the latter.

Rene lies there propped on his elbows observing the various swats and pats that Zachery goes through; it's almost flailing, right? Then the freeze, and Rene feels a smug look inch over his face.

"No." A few seconds are between the question and answer, but it does come, sounding self-satisfied more than anything else.

"And yet." That's the end of that sentence. Zachery finally liiifts his head off of the pillow, in staggered pulls and pushes of exhausted muscles, dragging himself away from Rene. He's squinting, too, but particularly with his white, left eye. "How long… what time is it."

Once his feet swing off the side of the bed and land on the floor, he immediately tries to stand. 'Tries' being the operative word, since he sits his ass right back down again to rub at the left side of his face. And as if memories come slowly flooding back to him as he hunches forward, he adds to that first mumble of a question, "This is not a situation I know how to respond to."

As if to add to the absurdity of the situation, he pushes some fingers hard against his eyelids and pop, a convex halfsphere of white acrylic drops from his eye socket into an open hand.
"I brought you here and went to finish my business. You were still out and I was tired too." So. Chairs are uncomfortable. Rene slides up a long sleeve to check a small watch. "Ten-ish."

Looks like he finally got some sleep. As the tiny 'saviour' sits up and loosens his hair from its tie to re-band it, blue eyes are watching Zachery's attempts to get his bearings. The mumbling just gets a laugh, absurdly bright for all the suffering going on. Rene swings off the bed without any trouble, jamming feet into his boots a moment later.

"You should probably wash that." Rene saunters his way to the bathroom door, peeking out before he closes it, brows high. "But after I piss."

For a blessed couple of minutes Zachery has his bubble to himself.

Blessed indeed. The moment Rene leaves the room, Zachery looks at the door leading outside - one eye tired, the other a hollow under unsupported eyelid. He reaches to pat his pockets, but finds them empty, and slips the prosthesis where he may otherwise very much like a phone to be.

He should get out. He should see if he was expected at work. He should… check what day it is, honestly. But what he does, instead, is lean back and thud back onto that bed, arms outstretched.

One half of a thoughtful stare is aimed up at the ceiling as he states, loudly, "Last time you SAW ME. I was a CORONER." As though this was a thousand years ago. "This is a WILD SITUATION and I'm NOT PROCESSING IT."

To his credit, Rene does not answer from the bathroom. He's not uncivilized. Yes, he washes his hands.

"You were never really very good at that, let's be honest." He makes his way over to lean forward over the bed and peer down at his charge. Closer inspection says older, of course, but there's still a distinctly ageless quality to that face, eyes alert and features unmarked. "Yea, it's been a minute, hasn't it?"

That one eye narrows at Rene, though Zachery otherwise remains motionless. He may have slept, but enervation still lingers over him like a fever.

He is older, too, with a few more tiny, healed scars on his face, nose broken and reset once or twice, lacking the half cracked pair of glasses once ever present. But there is something more than that— or perhaps less. Like the glue's worn away between the cracks that once held him together into a more presentable shape.

Speaking of, a twitch pulls his mouth into a lopsided grin that appears of its own volition, "It's been nine bloody years." With the way his accent has shifted further over thoose nine years, it sounds like either definition of the word 'bloody' may work, here. "And I hate to disappoint, but I'm afraid I won't be as useful a pawn to you now." He does not, in fact, hate to disappoint if the chuckle through which he speaks it means anything. "Though it's too late to leave me in the dirt, now."

Hands at the edge of the bed give some leverage to remain hovering, studying, considering. The cracks, as wild as they are, feel familiar; under his own skin, Rene has them too, painfully calcified rather than worn.

Nine years is a long time. The unbidden grinning has Rene's eyes narrowing in passive amusement.

"I mean, I could always make you into compost…" Laughing back, Rene just rolls his eyes as a follow-up, sitting himself down on the corner of the mattress. "You weren't really mine. You were Gideon's. I was just a messenger, mon ami." A pause. "Is that what you think we were, by the end? I'm offended. Jerk."

The grin on Zachery's face remains but something in his stare hardens, the muscle inside that partially empty eye socket moving with the twitch of his good eye as it darts from Rene back to the ceilig above him. "I was everyone's pawn." This, presumably, makes Rene nor Gideon any different. "I made for a lousy one, too. I'd make for lousier compost. A jerk, though, that's harder to deny."

Up comes a hand, to be dropped lazily down over his own face. Go away, light. his eyes close, caved eyelid and all. "You've survived the years unscathed, then." Not quite a question. "Are you still trouble?"

"Not unscathed, no." No elaboration offered for such a statement. Rene busies himself with re-tying his boots, though they don't need it. "And you don't give yourself enough credit. Not so lousy." Flyaways move with Rene's head as he looks over his shoulder to the older man, eyes darting away and second boot setting heel to floor. A puff of air escapes in a dry laugh.

"Depends on your definition of trouble."

"Tell you what," Zachery's head turns again, his eye settling on Rene only for as long as it takes to locate him from halfway underneath a hand still on his face, his grin still present but with all the life drained out of it, "let's define it another day. I need… not to be awake. More."

With that, he shoves his heels into the floor and pushes himself back onto that bed proper, turning to land his head back onto the pillow. If Rene's still within kicking reach at this point, he's getting a shove in the process. "Dirty Pool Pub, Sheepshead Bay. Swing by any time after 4, tell the big man I sent you. I'll be there. Probably."

God knows that Rene doesn't want an answer to 'how long were you awake?', though it has crossed his mind. All he can figure is that it had been days. Rene scoffs when the foot bumps against him to shove him off the end of the bed, and he obliges.

"Fair enough." Rene moves to grab a leather jacket thrown over the tiny coffee table, rifling briefly through pockets before throwing it on. He tosses something that lands with a lazy whup on Zachery.

"I paid the manager with some of that. You can give him more or keep it." Of course, it's a plant. Given the source, it's probably the good kush. Purely medicinal. Really-really. "It should help with the-" A finger motions to his own face, then all of Zachery. "That."

The thing landing on him gives Zachery enough reason to look back up again, but all he does is eye it… and then Rene… and then chooses to turn onto his side. Away from the door, away from Rene. "Sure."

There's a moment of silence, his eyes closing for what he can only hope is the last time in a while as that hand over his face draaags down over the stubbles of his jaw and and comes to rest beside him. Finally, eyebrows lowering in sleepy annoyance at something or another, he mumbles after a slow, controlled exhale, "… And thank you."

Curling away from the agrokinetic, Zachery can feel eyes on his back for a few breaths. The jostle of a stachel, the clink of metal, the rustle of collecting anything left. The rattle of curtains closing, dropping the room into darkness. The light spilling in as the door opens.

It remains open long enough for the exhale, quiet though it is.

"Providence," comes equally quietly, poised as an answer to a question that goes unasked. Light closes off as Rene steps out.

"De rien." Click.

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