Down to Business


yi-min_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Down to Business
Synopsis Zachery attempts to persuade Yi-Min it's time to get down to business, to defeat the ?????
Date July 9, 2020

Health Sciences Centre
Winnipeg, Manitoba

This part of the hospital is quiet. Outside Yi-Min's assigned door, there has been shuffling of movement, nurses advising wandering patients to get some fresh air.

But Zachery Miller has had fresh air, and he needs something else, now. His arrival is harkened by the thumps of a crutch at his side, and - once closer - the tired drag of cast-bound foot on floor.

Tired, but not slow. He comes barging into Yi-Min's room, having entirely failed to warn her of his impending visit and looking down at a messy handful of loose paper sheets as he hobbles his way in. "So," he starts with confidence, midway through some thoughts about what he's holding. "We should talk, and go over ideas."

Yi-Min is technically getting some measure of fresh air, in her own way. When Zachery bangs through the door to her room, she is standing quietly and meditatively by the room’s opened window, the way she is poised indicative of the strong likelihood that she had just concluded several long minutes of pacing.

The familiar tenor of that voice cancels out the need for her to look away to see who is there. Thus, all that happens over the next few moments is that her gaze flicks downwards towards the floor past her feet as she absorbs both intrusion and suggestion, most of her back turned to Zachery. She is too weary to be wary; there isn't even the barest intimation of a sigh in her silence.

"Yes? Ideas for…?"


Zachery, arriving at Yi-Min's bed, unburdens himself of the paper in that he unceremoniously drops it onto the sheets. All of it's been written on, both sides and corner to corner, with varying degrees of legibility where enthusiasm overtook.

Gripping onto the crutch as if his life depends on it (and his balance certainly does), he rifles through lined paper and ill-begotten stationery with his free hand and fishes out two sheets to keep to himself before he sinks into a bedside chair with what might as well be the weight of the world dragging him down.

The crutch falls to the floor, instantly forgotten. "There's names, there," Zachery gestures a hand at the bed with a bit more energy than is maybe necessary. "Occupations, some… cursory personalities of the other passengers, backgrounds - or what they've told me, anyway - contact information, should you want to copy it."

He's rambling, but Yi-Min should be used to this by now, from when he actually gets fully immersed in a project. There is a problem that needs solving and he's the one that's gonna do it. This belief is clear in the way he looks abruptly up from his measly two pieces of paper and at her, now, back turned or no. "I've compiled some theories! The first, working name 'Squeaky Gate', posits that we're not home in this universe, and have swapped minds, somehow, with our selves from another place entirely. That it's close to home, but not."

Finally, he's quiet, his stare toward his colleague dipping into expectant, eyebrow raised over a hollow socket.

Away from Zachery's view, Yi-Min lets her eyelids brush closed, as though passively permitting herself to tune out this whole environment and what it had become with Zachery's presence in favor of the much more pleasant one residing right outside her window. She is (probably) listening to him though, as evinced by her peculiar stillness.

It isn't until he finally runs out of steam that she turns to face him in the silence he directs her way, both her shoulders significantly lowered in what could either be deep thought or resignation.

Both? Both.

It's a long moment, too long, before she speaks.

"I would first call you a lunatic, but I have learned that impossible is not a word with the meaning I thought it had. But… also, listen to yourself. How do you propose to begin to verify even the least of these ideas, and even if that somehow proves achievable, what do you think you can do?"

"That's the wrong answer," Zachery fires back, "but you're on the right track. See—"

He lifts one of the pieces of paper, as though the wild scribblings on its back should tell Yi-Min anything from where she stands. No matter, he lowers it back into his lap before long, patting his pocket down for a pen he's apparently forgotten while continuing to explain, "So, I can't technically prove that we're not in the reality we remember growing up in, but! People in this reality remember how—"

He pauses, his ramble having been cut short by something catching on the gears of his mind, refusing that particular train of thought access. "Us," he amends, after a somewhat sluggish blink, "they remember us, how we were. And the changes — if they were somehow able to change us to a genetic level, they did so fast. And then they transported us? With a pilot we can't even get clean dental records off of? I don't have…"

He reaches for the pieces of paper on the bed, but settles for just having a hand on them as he remembers and admits, a little frazzled, "I don't have the precise times yet on what happened between… the latest memory and the crash pick up, but…"

But what? He goes still again.

"…You think you can piece things together, given due time and diligence." Yi-Min supplies her own guess of a finish for him, her voice bland.

Something odd is at work in her reaction that he has never seen: something past mere surface-level injury, and past the bodily traits otherwise stripped from all of them. Her energy is usually calm, but it's never this passive. There is a pained, distant spidering of tension behind her brow, as though she is fighting some deeply-faded battle in a place beyond vision, and she seems weary beyond belief.

She paces close to her bed at last, towards the piece of paper that Zachery hadn't quite managed to pick up. Zooping it out neatly from beneath the flat of his hand, she holds it up some distance away in order to peer at, squinting her eyes somewhat coolly at it as though this will let her get it over with faster.

The page is a mess of hastily jotted down names, both familiar to Yi-Min and not. Passengers' are joined by approximate ages, visual characteristics - it's only for right now, to link them to the faces he doesn't know very well yet. What's left of the page is used for yet more names, but this time of doctors at the hospital and specialists they haven't even met yet, denoted as such, some with phone numbers and some merely with 'contact???' scribbled beside them.

At the bottom, a single line, penned calmly.

'We must consider death'.

"I do," Zachery confirms Yi-Min's assumption, and his upper lip pulls back in a sneer when he looks at her head on. Standing closer, now, she can see the exhaustion clear on his face, but also that he is adamant not to give into it. "Who better than us? We're in it."

"'Who better than us,'" Yi-Min echoes with a tiny, ironic smile that's as sudden as it is tired.

As it stems from an altogether different source, her emotional state isn't as much a matter of giving in to anything, for better or for worse. In the midst of her fog of fatigue, a weary cat's eye still glints— shrouded, narrowed, but not erased. "We have literally no idea what we are or aren't up against, Zachery. We have no idea if this is the work of some corporation or something else entirely, if reality bending is at work here, motives, means. Boundaries. Anything. If whomever was responsible for the plane decided to return tomorrow, and collect us all up again like a batch of escaped socks from a laundry basket, we would be utterly powerless to stop it."

No pun even intended.

"I appreciate your maniacal zeal." Well. That one’s definitely a maybe. "But you are trying to play a game we do not know the rules to, or even if there are any rules."

Only now does Zachery seem to see something different in Yi-Min. He can't quite place it, but her words help push him in the right direction.

"So let them take us." The words leave him not like a challenge, but with an emptiness. "How is the possibility of that stopping you from trying to find answers now? What do you want to do, just… sit here and accept whatever the fuck is going on?"

He wraps his fingers around an armrest, leaning forward to collect the crutch and awkwardly working it under an arm so he can rise to his feet. He grits his teeth at the effort required, gaze momentarily down on the ground before it lifts to Yi-Min's face again once he's fully upright. "I can't do that anymore."

"My advice is to take this extra energy, and put it into taking care of Nicole," is what Yi-Min leaves as an incidental reply to that, her tone frank without being cold. "She needs you, you know. Now, more than ever."

When Zachery stretches out to pick up his crutch, Yi-Min makes no move to help him, but she watches steadily all the same as though ready to do so should the need arise. Thus, her gaze is already near his face when he lifts it up to hers, her tension threading away into a quieter kind of contemplation.

"You've come a ways," she observes without withdrawing her gaze, as if that's really supposed to be helpful right now. It's mostly to herself, though.

Zachery has no counter-argument when it comes to the subject of Nicole, turning with discomfort clear on his face to grab the remaining pieces of paper off of the bed in messy swipes of his free hand.

"Yes, well," he hisses out, struggling to right the pages one-handed while his grip on the support tightens with the shift in balance. When he glances up again, it's with a measure of resignation bringing his gaze back down shortly after. "A lot of good that did me, didn't it. Or us, or…"

Or who knows. He, apparently, does not, gaze unfocusing.

"Hang onto it." For a second, Yi-Min's meaning is somewhat ambiguous, since as she's saying it she is also casually sticking out her hand to offer to him the single page she'd been holding onto. But her real focus never once drifts down towards that page between them, nor any of the others Zachery is erratically shuffling into order.

It doesn't take her long to clarify, either. "The past is what it is. You may yet need this kind of determination in the days to come, though. Focus like this is a precious thing. So do not lose it, nor pour it into some futile pursuit."

Perhaps his marriage to Nicole wouldn't be a complete disaster for them both after all.

Time will tell.

"Who's to say what's futile?" Keeping the rest of the sheets pressed against his palm, Zachery accepts the remaining page with thumb and forefinger and a considerable amount of doubt in his voice.

"How do you ever know what's futile?" This time, when his busywork is lowered, his gaze stays locked to Yi-Min's a little more solidly. Doubt makes way for perseverance. "I don't think, in my whole life, I've known once. Busied myself with what I thought was important while the fires of what actually was lapped at my back until I grew so used to the heat that the scars felt like they were always a part of me. So how do you know?"

Restlessness still burrows deep, showing in a roll forward of his jaw and heavy lean on the crutch in preparation to move — but though his voice is one of challenge, the way he searches her expression betrays something else.

Hoping, for once, to be proven wrong.

How— unexpectedly poetic. Yi-Min's mouth slants up a tad, but it isn’t even from that. The look in her eyes fades into a mood that seems as firmly, brightly grounded as it is faraway, lent just a little bit of softness from her almost-smile.

As such, her answer is a good deal less dramatic than the metaphor Zachery had devised, but it is also devoid of any of his doubt. "There is no way to know, obviously. Not if you are only talking about predicting the results. Only someone akin to an actual deity can see the future with total clarity, no? Yet, I would also tell you this — that nothing you do is futile if done for the correct reason. That any goal you pursue for the sake of whatever, or whomever is dearest to your soul shall have an inherent value, because those things are never futile."

In this world where any paved road might lead to heaven, hell, or a hundred points of uncertainty besides, intentions might well be the one thing that could actually last long enough to humanly matter.

By Yi-Min’s summations, anyway.

It wasn't too long ago that Zachery would have scoffed at all of this, where frustration now simply leaves him in a slightly too long and level sigh.

His grip tightens around the scribblings held at his side, the pages crinkling under the pressure. But he is listening. And he lets the words settle. Not - as he would have done for most of the time Yi-Min and he have known each other - rejecting her words right out of the gate.

He stands silently until a wobble of poorly distributed weight sends him wincing, and shifting into a slightly more upright position, but without breaking eye contact. Finally, he concludes with the uncertainty gone from his voice, "Then this isn't 'some futile pursuit'."

"I still think your efforts would be much better spent directly on your family," Yi-Min returns, cynically and easily. It's a sentiment presented as fact, and without no more vehemence than the ease in her voice would suggest. None of the brightness goes out of her gaze— instead it simply retreats, recollecting as an even more peaceable, narrowly focused band of intensity as she lets it keep resting on Zachery's face.

"But, it is well. If you really believe in whatever the hell it is you are doing. Then… so, let it be.”

”Start at the very beginning with what you have."

"There's no… feasible beginning," Zachery admits, refusing to be the first to break eye contact. "Not yet. When I manage to get some rest, when I'm able to do proper research but…"

The more he says, the more tired he looks. This should be easier to explain, he should have more information. "That first theory is out, for the sheer fact that it is so hard to disprove that it may as well not matter." He sounds unhappy about this and knits his brow to match a clipped tone, but wastes no more time on it.

"Theory number two, however, worries me a little. The 'Copy theory'." He doesn't need to look at the paper in his hand, but gives it a small shake anyway. "Nicole and I were not as we are right now, and that gives us a window of less than a year in which we were both in our present states. If we question everyone about whether they might have similar tells around that same window of time…" He leaves the rest of the sentence hanging.

"Tell me this first theory still. I want to hear it." The tone Yi-Min uses is encouraging, even gentle at least as far as volume alone, but the injunction is firm. If they are going to be doing this, they might as well do it with the thoroughness it fully deserves.

That means covering, and likely re-covering, all of the ground that Zachery had even remotely touched upon.

"Yes, I— had been thinking about Nicole's state, and what it might mean. But what do you mean, you as well?" Unaware that their maintained eye contact had apparently turned into a mutual contest, Yi-Min swipes hers sideways in an unconcerned flicker of thought.

"Do you remember when we met?" Zachery's gaze holds, at least until this point. Then, he twists around to look at the chair behind him, and moves to let himself fall back into it. Setting the crutch aside and keeping hold on the paper in his lap, he angles his face up again and raises both eyebrows - pointing a finger and pulling the eyelid of his empty socket open.

"This was normal less than a month before then. Before Devi Ezell cut it out of me." The mere memory of it is enough to sharpen his words enough so they might cut, what with the event not being one he enjoys recalling on a good day, let alone this one. "So if we take the period of time when Nicole was not recently pregnant but had had Pippa - which is what her current state appears to be - and find the overlap with when my eye had been taken out already but had also healed to this state it's in now… then we've only got roughly between about April last year, and February this-…"

Suddenly, his attention wanders. It trails down as his words slow. "Shit, did I… get it - the wrong way around…" He scrubs a hand over his face, palm pressing hard against his temple. "I should get some more coffee."

"Think very carefully about those dates," Yi-Min advises Zachery. Her attention settles onto the spectacle of the socket that he prods open to show to her, and doesn't depart once he's physically done. If anything, it’s as though it burrows even deeper in, searching for something far beyond the scope of what is actually there.

It seems as though her still-withdrawn demeanor is incubating thought now, rather than pure tiredness. "Have you written records of things? Either ones that you have kept yourself, or access to official documentation that would confirm such dates. If so, I would check them once you are able to. And then, keep checking them."

That last suggestion is— odd. She doesn't elaborate on it.

After letting his hand slide down his face and over the back of his neck, Zachery sits a little straighter, searching Yi-Min's expression.

"I have records," he answers. "Of hospital visits, and bills from specialists. I can ask Nicole for…" Eight years ago is like a different world entirely, and he neglects to finish the rest of his sentence in favour of moving on. He'll see about all of that later, but for now—

For the first time since he entered the room, he sounds hopeful. "What do you think happened to us?"

Yi-Min's expression doesn't reveal much that's useful, as per usual. Just an internal focus that grows cooler in tone as her thoughtfulness intensifies.

"There are two concrete possibilities I have thought of, at least in terms of what stripped us of our powers. One of them should be possible to test for. I need to talk to Nicole about this as soon as possible."

The other— well. Unless they could somehow force the Entity itself into a lab, it was a notion that might not even be worth really bothering with.

"However, that still leaves… the entire dilemma of Nicole's condition, and everything it may entail about what happened to us. This is why I advise you to re-check the dates on your records. If they change, or can be seen to have changed at any point, it is a sure sign that we are still being toyed with." The proposal was a far shot, but it would still help to be able to rule it out.

"So." Zachery says, confusion still rife in his voice, though his face a controlled neutral. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, but I can check. I'll, ah - I can do that now, actually."

He starts to rise again, uneasily, clunking the crutch against the chair on his way up. "I have… more theories, but they're…" He struggles as he steadies himself with his fistful of mangled paper shoved against the bed, then finally rights himself again and looks at Yi-Min anew. "They're fairly abstract. Afterlife, dream, coma. Sort of unprovable at this point, not really worth the energy." Even just talking about it seems to rob him of motivation where he stands.

"Can you keep Nicole company for a little while?" He quickly tacks on, rooted in place. "Ask her whatever you wanted. Tell her I'll be with her soon, I just… I have some more visits to make. After coffee. And requesting records."

For some reason that Yi-Min continues to leave infuriatingly unexplained, hearing the mention of dreams colors the intrigue inside her gaze even more strongly as she watches Zachery scraping himself up to leave, settling herself just on the edge of her bed as she does. Her legs cross.

It’s almost as though Zachery’s motivation is funneling itself out of him, and into her.

"Of course," she supplements without appearing to give much thought at all to the request, perhaps because she has already been weighing it in the back of her mind. "I will not bother her with this straight away. I am loathe to deprive her of even a little of the rest that she needs right now. But, rest assured I will take excellent care of her."

It's clear in the way Zachery's jaw sets that he wants to argue, and that he's too impatient for the things Yi-Min says will take time.

But whatever fights for an audience within his mind, it loses, and he forces it away with a glance toward the door. "Alright."

With that quiet agreement, he starts dragging himself back out the way he came, tension working its way back into his body as quickly as it was forgotten a moment ago. "Fuck, this is a mess. I'm going-…" He's not sure yet, if the disconnected monotony that carries his words is any indication. "I'm going. Thank you."

Both of Yi-Min's eyebrows arch a little when she hears that unexpected 'thank you,' though she doesn't otherwise respond as Zachery slouches the rest of his way out of her room.

For him to offer up such voluntary politeness to her— why, this was surely one of the worst crises that had ever befallen him.

Time to get to work, it looks like.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License