Embers Of The Fire


isis_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Embers of The Fire
Synopsis Everyone needs a friend… and motivations.
Date June 26, 2019

Isis stares at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as the little cell phone emits a hollow ringing, muffled by her ear and cheek mashed down on the touchscreen to wedge the phone onto her shoulder.

Rrrring. Rrrring.

She stops fiddling with a mascara wand.
Is he even going to answer?

Rrrring. Rrrring.

Who the fuck calls nowadays?

Rrrring. Rrrring.

She squints at the mirror.
Should've just texted.

Rrrring. Rrrring.

If I hang up now, he'll still know I called..
She suddenly bares her teeth in a silent snarl at the mirror…

"Hey, Jitters." Zachery's voice comes from the other end of the line, tired and sort of… strained sounding? There's a noise that's definitely probably him hoisting himself up from a couch, before— "Your time to call me up drunk, is it?"

Poof! Like fucking prestidigitation - all too quick the snarl flips to a smirk. "Ooo. Now I'm wondering how that would've played out. If you wanna give me fifteen, I could pound a few shots and call you back." The little redhead gives a wiggle of her shoulders at her own reflection but instantly rolls hazel eyes at herself. She reaches out and smacks the switch on the wall, darkening her sassy reflection.

Her bare feet carry her over carpet back to her room. "But, I can try to be an interesting sober, too. Try. Cause, actually, I was just wondering if you wanted to… hang out? Doing, uh… whatever alcoholic, secret society, doctor's generally… do?"

There's another mirror in here, too, damnit! She flips it the bird and flops backward onto her bed, sprawled with a messy halo of fiery curls tangled up behind her.

"Hey, there's more to me than just…" From Zachery's side, there comes the noise of a door opening, then the brief but raucous clinking of glassware, "— no, actually, that's pretty much it, isn't it. My whole identity in three qualities. Swell." There's a pause, and a scrape of a chair leg over concrete. "Tell you what. Why don't we get something in that stomach before you pound those shots? You seem like a lightweight and I could eat a… sandwich? I don't know."

One can't hear a shrug over the phone, presumably, but it's still audibly there.

There’s a breezy chuckle made staticky by the cellular device. “Sounds like a good battle plan. I could use a designated drinker - I’m a bit outta practice.” Isis pops up and begins tugged on socks before slipping her little feet into her usual knee-high boots. “Let’s hang out on your side of the tracks. Ping me an address.” There’s a jangling of her keys as she slips hurriedly from her room, sparing a quick glance towards Dirk’s room before she hurriedly makes for the door.

“Oh, and I expect a full explanation of Jitters when I get there.” The latch clicks behind her.

Blearily, but amused: "Yeah."

And the phone goes silent.

Sheepshead Bagels & Beans

NYC Safe Zone

6:22 PM EST

A lot can be said of Sheepshead, but one would be hard pressed to find praise for its bountiful choice in coffee shops. Still, there are a few, and Sheepshead Bagels & Beans delivers exactly what its name promises in an otherwise bleakly neglected area. Previously just Sheepshead Beans (the place has been doing well for itself!), it has… decent coffee, but what makes it truly stand out is that despite the fact that the owners leaned hard into the industrial look of the area, the seats are surprisingly comfortable. One long, cushioned L-shaped bench lines two of the walls, and old-magazine-strewn tables dot the rest of the space where they don't get in the way of the counter. It being within walking distance from Brooklyn College makes for a clientele that generally skews toward student-age, but the bustle during the busier hours contains all sorts.

Seated in the corner of the big L-shaped bench - and taking up more space than necessary, really - Zachery looks the part of a regular. Halfsprawled comfortably at a table. He's leafing through some magazine, though his eye doesn't seem to linger on any one page for long before they're brushed aside for a look at the next. In his other hand, pulled close, the largest cup of coffee the place holds. It's the kind with a lid, except the lid's long been dumped in the trash.

And, of course, since the place is called Sheepshead Bagels & Beans — he's got a panini. With some pulled pork, from the looks of things.

Isis stops to hold the door open for a departing patron, leaning in awkwardly with a short-arm reach and looking around as she does. She steps in after, waiting until the person is well and gone before daring a muddled “You’re welcome,” in the absence of any expressed gratitude. Pffa, kids these days. Wait… She cringes externally at that but lets it all flitter uselessly away when she spots Zachery.
She gives a little wave and gesture at the counter, conducting a quick exchange to place her order before half-sliding, half-flopping into a seat beside Zachery. The woman before Zachery is significantly more casual than any variation of Isis, or even Jo, yet. Her hair is tossed up in a messy bun - errant spidery little whisps sticking out this way and that. A pale-gray shirt is screen-printed with too many words to distinguish straight away, and her skinny jeans are split and frayed at the knees.

“Other side of the tracks indeed. This place is pretty cozy, though. Whatcha reading?” She leans in.

"Oh, don't call this reading," Zachery answers, unhelpfully, "that's like asking someone on a jungle gym if they're enjoying the architecture."

Despite his words, his tone of voice trends upward toward the end, and once he finally does look up at Isis, it's with a content smirk. He might be in a good mood, of all things. He is, as almost always, in awfully drab business casual of black and white. He should probably work on that some time, now that he's got a proper job. But not right now.

Right now is shoving that magazine to the side and staring at Isis time. From her hair to her shirt to her hands, legs, shoulders. None of it lingering. Her face seems last on the list, from over his freshly raised coffee. "Look at us. Meeting for a bite to eat. How far we've come since you first dragged me into a hospital."

Little hands come up in a show of surrender. “I think jungle gyms are inspired.” Isis smiles. The good mood is in air. Blame the chemtrails.

The stare reveals nothing new beyond the attire. No new exciting injuries or changes. The shirt is one of those ‘Keep Calm’ trends, but blathers on from neck to hip, much of it made illegible in wrinkles from her seated posture:

~Keep Calm~




Cast Fireball


Loot the Bodies

~Carry On~

“Oh, those were the good ol’ days, hm? How far indeed. Fallen right into the vat of responsibility and…” She swirls both her hands around idly in front of her. “Other adulty stuff.” Isis turns a cheek to give Zachery a playful side-eyed glance. “But, you did promise booze, so we aren’t too far lost. There’s hope yet. Besides, I hear this is a thing that people, friends, do.” She shrugs with easy feigned ignorance and breaks her attention from Zachery long enough to thank the server that drops her order at the corner of the table. She pulls the sandwich - something coldcut lacking in anything really vegetable related - closer and pulls the breading open to double check the guts. “How you holding up?” she inquires casually while peering suspiciously at her food.

Zachery's gaze drops briefly to the newly arrived food, before he lets it wander lazily to his own. Still untouched. "We're friends now, are we?" A rhetorical question meant to humour her, maybe, but what sounds like a little bit of genuine surprise still comes through. "When did that happen, when you gave me a false name, or when we found out we were in the same book club, or when you threatened me with grave bodily harm? Unbecoming of a lady, really."

He grabs his own excuse for a meal, and shoves it into his face for a bite that seems almost too big to comfortably chew. But he manages, staring quite happily at Isis as he leans back in his seat, elbow hooked over a back rest.

“Don’t act like you didn’t like it. Besides, I never claimed to be a lady,” Isis wrinkles her nose at something offensive, either the word ‘lady’ or the something in her sandwich that has caught her eye - a tiny sliver of onion clinging to a pickle. She pinches and flicks, the translucent veggie slice flopping onto the table outside her sandwich basket. Finally, the food can be reassembled and taken up.

“These all sound like those ‘inside joke’ things that people have.” Other people. Friends. She looks back up to Zach’s sandwich-gorged face. To her credit, she manages to keep a flat expression for half a beat before smiling. “You got a little somethin’-somethin’.” At first, it sounds like a come-on, then she flicks a little finger at the corner of her own mouth to indicate otherwise. “Anyway, ‘friends’ wasn’t my idea. Someone else pointed it out. And, I suppose there’s some wisdom to an outsider’s point of view. Maybe?” She lofts a brow as she bites into her sandwich.

Behind the utterly graceless chew, there is an exhale of a chuckle. Zachery wipes a wrist past his mouth, and angles his head to level a skeptical look at his supposed friend, something deepening crow's feet while he listens.

A glug of coffee later and he's got his bite down. "Wasn't Peaches, was it? I saw him sneaking over there, though I sort of figured he was just… I don't know, making sure someone thought he was the handsomest man in the room." He offers a dismissive gesture, and digs back into his food. At this rate, he'll have it down in three bites.

Isis’s bite is a little less obtuse, but no more graceful when Zach’s comment causes her to choke-laugh mid swallow and nearly lodge a bit of pickle in her nasal cavity. She reaches for a napkin in which to finish a quick bought of laugh-coughing before dabbing at her at the corner of her mouth. “I dunno, man. There’s some pretty stiff competition in the Book Club. I like that, by the way-…” Her offhand comes up to make a wagged point at Zachery’s person. “Much better than Support Group.”

“Actually, it was Ash - that other guy I was talking to with Godfrey.” There’s an extra prominent shrug of her left shoulder before she risks another bite, aiming to chew and swallow before another Zach-comment can put her at risk for further choking.

With the casual lean back of someone who might, quite happily, let someone die as a result of a joke, Zachery sits and follows Isis' movements with a curious focus on her movements.

"Ash," he tries the name on for size, though it leaves him as though it's not one he's said before. "He doesn't even know me. Though, I guess we're already one road trip deep, so maybe it's not too far off." There's little about his tone that implies there is anything negative or positive about this, and he waves what's left of the panini in Isis' direction. "How do you know him, anyway? Boyfriend? You seemed… familiar."

Careful wording, accompanied by a less than careful half-lidded stare.

“He doesn’t need to know you to make assumptions. That’s why they’re assumptions.” Pause. “Like the way you just assumed him and I are thing because of what you saw.” She lowers her chin, raises her brow, and gives an brief point in Zachery’s direction. Isis holds this pose a moment longer than is necessary, narrowing her eyes suspiciously as that singular assessment - ‘familiar’ - hangs out there. Her nose gives a sharp little twitch before her gaze breaks away and turns on the sandwich. “Ex.” Glassy, unpainted nails peel a pickle out of her sandwich to be eaten seperately. “Not that I blame him.”

“How’s your situation with the girlfriend?”

Zachery sits and stares when that hovering accusation is pointed his way, the way one might look at a very small dog that's trying to show aggression, smirk pulling to one side. When he gets his answer, he meets it with a chuckle, though it lacks amusement almost entirely. Flatly, he answers, "Fair enough."

He's not here to make fun, apparently. But he IS here to pour an ungodly amount of coffee down his throat, before the cup goes tucked back behind his arm again. As such, his answer comes a little delayed, attention turning downward at his own hands as he pushes his fingers to the table as if to idly check its structural integrity. Yep. Pretty solid matter, still.

"It could be going better. I've been, ah - preoccupied, and she's annoyingly far away. She's also very… motherly. Caring. Sensible. Not qualities I expected to… work. With this." He gestures vague at — his whole deal, really. His everything. What looks like it may be a sincere smile is almost instantly whisked away by a grin, instead. "I'd make a joke about me just needing a babysitter but that would make this whole situation very inappropriate."

“OoOoo. Oedipal Complex - that’s hot.” Isis bobs her brows twice as she licks a bit of condiments from the pad of her thumb. The half-finished sandwich is pushed away. “There’s actually not much I find ‘inappropriate’…” Her gaze thurns up thoughtfully with a tart-thoughtful expression. “Except dead baby jokes, if that’s still a thing. Never was a fan.” She shakes her head, tongue running back along her molars as she does. With that she props an elbow on the table and rests her jaw upon the knuckles of her closed fist, her gaze turned fully back on Zach.

“Does it, though? Work?” Her free hand comes up and makes a flippant gesture over Zachery’s being. “Does she make you a ‘better you’?” It’s a sincere question draped in an airy veil of skepticism for both their benefits. Let’s not get too serious here, after all - Ick.

Continuing the trend of eating his meal in a hurry, the derisive snort Zachery sounds at Isis' comments comes just when the last of his food is chewed and swallowed down.

He clears his throat, and gives her a look of amused skepticism that lasts only a few seconds before he turns his attention to his coffee again, grin remaining at half strength. "… As much as I'd enjoy another complex," he starts, flatly, "that's one of the things that baffles me most about her. About this. I don't actually love the, ah - mother thing. It gets in the way. At the same time, though…" He angles his head, voice growing just ever so slightly quieter. Ponderous. A little confused. "She hasn't made me worse."

Maybe he didn't get the memo about not getting serious. "Also," he looks up again, lifting his coffee for a sip - but not before somewhat glibly adding, "she didn't complain when I insinuated I'd ended up in someone else's bed, so. There's that."

Brows shoot up towards a crimson colored hairline. “You told her?” This clearly surprises her. She considers Zachery a moment longer before her head and torso bob back just slightly and the way in which she watches the man changes. It’s a subtle thing - a softening at the sharp corners of her little mouth, a few less faint wrinkles etched around her intense hazel eyes. But, it’s all summed up with a simple and monotone: “Huh.”

Isis relieves Zachery of her watchful gaze with a casual lift of one shoulder. “She sounds like a keeper. And, everyone needs someone to look out for them, even if it is annoying as fuck.”

"It is, isn't it?" Zachery breathes these words like it's only just now occurring to him that it might be true. A moment later, he straightens up, kicks a foot out against a table leg, and takes a deep breath.

"So," spoken louder and more confidently, through a once more brightening grin, as he leans forward on his elbows. "Tell me of your dreams. Aspirations. I feel like we still hardly know each other, and that's not how friends are, are they?" He quicks a brow, head angling upward as he searches Isis' face as if for any cracks.

Time stops briefly. Or so it seems if one was to look upon Isis’s person in measuring any such passage.

Creeeek. Isis’s hand is stuck mid way on the track of an idle gesture towards her lips.

Tck. Tck There’s a twitch under her left eye. Subtle. Fist over fist of icy coldness seems to grab from the bottom of her spine to the base of her skull till she’s sitting straighter. Tck. Her gaze darts to the corner of her eyes to consider Zachery, the rest of her - head and body - follow more slowly.

“To live forever.” CRACK. It’s as if a one-way mirror has shattered. One can almost hear the shards hitting the floor around them - a tinkling of taunting laughter. The effect is a strange one - Isis’s expression has not changed and yet seems both more open and more cold for the reveal and the edge of her voice. There’s a wink there, an ember, that wasn’t visible before - something ever so slightly unhinged in its zealoutist and single-minded passion.

One hand still hovering out beside her head, never having made it to her lips, the other now braces the back of her seat. The only movement from her now is the careful, measured breaths that lift and lower her chest as she watches Zachery.

The best unexpected gifts are the ones you didn't even know you needed. Isis' answer, both in words and otherwise, seems to rob him of the smugness that had been on his face before. It's replaced with an unblinking look of unbridled curiosity, the way a child might greedily eye an open flame that sits unprotected and within arm's reach. Waiting.

His chest falls, and stays that way for a number of beats. On the whole, he stays exactly as he was, leaned forward, his full attention on Isis' face, lower eyelids pushing up over fake and real eye both. He draws another breath, finally, for a reply.

"… Fascinating." It's said quietly, but with the intense undertones of satisfaction that are mirrored in what's left of his grin. "Not bad, Jitters." Why, he might just sound a little bit impressed.

Her tongue makes a brief pull over her lower lip before her hand sliiiiiides down the back of her seat and finds a place in her lap. Her fingers ripple once, twice, and then still against a denim-clad thigh. It’s clearly a forced stillness as opposed to a casual one, that keeps her now, for every little movement seems measured before conducted. Isis gives a twitch of her head to the left, but it’s hard to tell if its a tick or a barely manifested shrug given the sparkling sheen in her gaze now.

“Jitters? We’re sticking with that one?” Her risen hand falls to the table, a little fist rapping knuckles once on the surface. “What ‘bout you, friend? What’s the end game?”

"Does it have to be about the end?" Zachery shoots back, sinking a little lower onto his elbows before he draaags himself back in his seat again, arms folding over one another as he continues his study of the person across from him.

His eyes narrow, the functional one a little more than the other. "Though, I suppose your choice of…" he visibly stifles something which may have very well been a chuckle, otherwise, "… goal takes a certain kind of pinpoint precision that I think I might lack." Not that he seems upset about it, head tilting upward.

Finally, with something that only barely passes for a shrug, he says nonchalantly, "As for me, I'm just here for the buffet."

Isis’s gaze narrows. Her lips pursed in a way that is equal parts thoughtful and perturbed, she raps her knuckles twice more on the table. “How very… noncommittal…” Pause. “And vague.” The last is spoken with a heavy drop of her disapproval in her alto tones.” Sucking her tongue behind her teeth, she shakes her head and leans forward. She makes a curling, come-hither gesture of her index finger. “Come on. We’re friends now. Tell me your secret.”

Now the chuckle comes, as Zachery's eyes land briefly on that finger, eyebrows slanting as he gestures vaguely for that thing to go elsewhere. Shoo.

The disapproving tone has done little to concern him. If anything, he both looks and sounds more confident when he lazily scrubs a hand across his jawline and says, "Alright, how about…" He looks up for a moment, before his attention resettles on Isis' face with renewed focus. "Knowledge. And the safety knowledge brings with it. Knowledge gained through said buffet, if I outlive the consequences long enough. There are…" He angles his head sideways a little, as if cherishing something unsaid, "just so many dishes."

The subtle lift at the left corner of her lips seems only to fan the ember still glowing as golden flecks in her hazel eyes. “Now that I can work with.” Elbows on thighs, she clasps her hands to restrain that taunting fingering gesture and remains tilted in towards Zachery for a moment longer, watchful.

A deep breath is drawn in through her tiny nose before she turns her visage away, a porcelain silhouette given to her companion as her gaze turns over the other occupants in the little coffee and bagel shop. Her gaze is restless and wandering, but with each person she takes in - going so idly about their simple, daily lives - the shards of the one-way mirror are reconstructed, piece by careful piece.

She pushes to her feet and looks back to Zachery with a smile that is easily warm and sincere - and perhaps all the more disconcerted for the complete dissociation from that which he had witnessed only moments before. Her eyes widen playfully. “Well then. Time to buckle up. You promised drinks. Let’s see what other dirty secrets we can dig up from the bottom of a bottle.”

"I am a gentleman of my word. When it leaves me, anyway." Zachery's eye, all this time, has not left Isis' form. Only now does he look away, after a rap of fingertips against tabletop, before he rises to his feet as well.

"I may have underestimated you. Let's get a few drinks in you and see if that assessment holds."

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