Fact Check


carver_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Fact Check
Synopsis Carver pays a visit to Zachery's house, in an effort to fact check some rumors.
Date January 12, 2020


It's a cold and dreary January day that finds Doctor Harrison Carver out and about, bundled against the cold and ready for a hike; he's got his trusty fleece-lined jacket and his old combat boots, and a sturdy umbrella in hand in case it decides to snow. Today, though, he's not going for a walk in the woods, or to Providence's shooting range, or even to some odd job or other. Today he's going to visit a friend…which is why he's marching up the lonely dirt path that leads to the house of Providence's current practicing physician.

He stops as he crests the hill, pausing to regard Zachery's lair house. The place doesn't seem to be too bad off; nothing stands out as being particularly in need of repairs at first glance. Something about the sight of the place, though, gives him pause —

The lights.

Carver's eyes narrow. The lights. He can hear a generator running. Why are Miller's windows dark? He frowns. Maybe Miller's taking a midday nap. Maybe he's got a headache. Maybe…

…maybe Carver should quit wasting time fucking around in the cold and damp before he catches pneumonia. He lets out a low growl of irritation, stalks his way up to Zachery's front door, and bangs on it.

There is no response but the creak of the physician's sign out front swinging in a lazy lick of a breeze.

At least, not right away. A ground floor window that only just allows a peek across the immediate area of the front door shows a tiny bit of movement. A twitch of a curtain, before —


The sound of a beak on glass is followed shortly by a shrill call like a collection of rats pushed over a cheese grater. It is not - suffice to say - a good noise. A fan of white-tipped feathers brushes up against the window and the creature vanishes from the windowsill all together.

Carver would be excused for thinking the actual minutes of nothing but the occasional avian screech inside meant that the only life beyond the threshold was some trapped wildlife. But trapped wildlife does not open doors, and said door does, eventually, open.

The darkness still behind him, Zachery stands in the opening, barefoot, heavily leaned to one side and still partially obscured behind the door. No use letting all the cold in by opening it all the way. He scrubs a hand past several weeks of facial scruff before wearily shoving his palm and fingers into real and fake eye both. It looks like he's had a day, and would have been better off spending it sleeping. Without even looking out, he asks flatly, "Is it urgent."

Carver's frown deepens, his eyes narrowing at what appears to be a bird in Miller's house. Running loose in Miller's house. He waits for a minute or two longer before rapping on the door again.

When Zachery finally does appear, Carver's eyes widen a bit as he takes in the physician's current condition, then narrow again. "Uncertain," he rasps. His gray eyes scrutinize the darkness behind Zachery for a moment before coming back to the physician's face. "Leaning yes."

The hand drops from Zachery's face, coming to rest against the inside of the door. "… Oh."

Only now does he actually look at his visitor, shifting to pull his center of gravity slightly more to where it should be — though keeping all of his weight on his right leg rather than the left. The latter conveniently hidden, still, behind the door.

He clears his throat, his eye darting over the other man's face. His voice lifts, enunciation cleared - it's the sort of tone one might adopt with a patient rather than neighbour. "Dr. Carver." His head dips, ever so slightly, brow furrowing over a tired expression. "What can I help you with? Is everything alright?"

Off inside the house, somewhere only just close enough to hear, something that isn't human goes, "Wheh heh heh."

Carver's expression smooths a bit as Zachery's demeanor becomes more professional, his frown shifting back towards his customary scowl; his unease isn't entirely mollified by Zachery's professional manner, but it's at least a bit allayed. "No foreseen immediate threats on the horizon," he says, somewhat grumpily. "But I was hoping to consult with you."

He pauses a moment longer, then his scowl deepens. "Now, are you gonna let me in, or are we gonna stand here giggling and whispering through the door like high school girls until I get pneumonia and die?" he asks. There's some definite sarcasm in his tone, and a bit of exasperation, but it's more subdued than is the norm for Carver. Maybe it's this cold, dreary weather.

"The giggling can certainly continue inside." Zachery's answer comes without delay, and without humour. He moves aside, bowing his head down again as he limps to the side and then further into the main hallway. This, quite obviously, due to the fact that one of his feet is about twice the size it should be, swollen and purple in spots, in spite of him trying to ignore the abnormality.

It is not necessarily warmer in here, even if the bite of the cold has been muzzled by walls and insulation.

"Now," Zachery looks to Carver, standing unsteadily in the dark hallway, "is this a clinic issue," he brings an arm out to the side, toward the clinic's door, then lets it drop back down in order to clamp his hand on the outside of his weight-bearing leg as he uses the other hand to gesture to an already open door on his other side, "… or a living room issue?"

"Obliged," Carver rasps, inclining his head; he doesn't miss Zachery's hobbling, any more than he'd missed Zachery's off-center posture when he'd first come to the door. The reason becomes readily apparent the moment the door swings open; Miller looks like he's been snakebit. Rather spectacularly, too.

Carver's eyes widen at the first sight of the gruesomely swollen appendage… but Miller's been living with it and definitely hasn't come to see him in a professional capacity, so he bites his tongue and steps inside. Where, despite his expectations and the running generator outside, it's not exactly warmer.

"Living room's fine," Carver rasps, moving in the indicated direction. He walks with a steady, measured tread, his gray eyes sweeping through the gloom of Miller's lair, studying it; this is, after all, unfamiliar territory to him. "Much as I'm curious to see your clinic, that can wait." Until Miller's leg doesn't look like some lunatic had decided to inflate it like some kind of meat balloon.

It may be cold and dimly lit - this solely thanks to what light pours in from outside through sizeable windows - but the livingroom at least looks comfortable enough.

Two big leather chairs and a sofa stand by a fireplace, and two of the walls are covered almost entirely by tall bookcases. They're filled meticulously with a plethora of medical literature, from personal studies to smaller publishings to encyclopediae, historical and recent. A few more books lay strewn on a coffee table. A large birdcage with a missing door stands, quite out of place, in a corner. What's visible of the walls, plus the ceiling and floor is quite dark wood, but in a way that - with the fireplace on - it might just lend itself to coziness.

The adjacent open kitchen is small but tidy, and a fair bit brighter for the number of windows in it. It also currently housing a magpie sitting on the back of one of the mismatched kitchen table chairs, preening contently.

"It is a good clinic. Worth getting sick for, if I say so myself." Zachery starts to make his way through the living room and into the kitchen, albeit slowly. Though he clearly struggles, a stiff lean against a chairback here and doorpost there have become routine. Almost casual. "Can I offer you something to drink? I'm afraid it's not much warmer in here. I've been, ah— … holed up. Working." His jaw sets, as he glances back to Carver. "Sick. Both." That'll do. "No use warming the whole house and wasting firewood or gas, right."

Carver moves in the indicated direction, taking up position standing beside one of Zachery's bookcases. He nods absently at Zachery's assessment of his clinic; he's not sure there ever was a clinic worth getting sick for, but based on Zachery's living accomodations, he's willing to believe that it is… acceptable.

High marks indeed, coming from Carver.

"I'll take a drink," Carver rasps, still studying the decor. He approves, on the whole; the place gives off an air of respectability, of professionality. Only one detail strikes him as out of place — the bird, sitting there preening itself on the table. The cage is missing a door, so it seems fair to assume it's got full run of the house, but there aren't any signs of bird shit anywhere; either someone has been cleaning up after it very fastidiously — unlikely to be Miller, given the obvious difficulties he's having with movement in general — or it's smart enough to confine its messes to its cage.

That would be quite an intelligent bird, wouldn't it? . A rare bird indeed… but it would be a pretty smart bird, if it's informing Miller of guests at his door. Carver watches the bird out of the corner of his eye.

"Heard you'd had a car wreck; glad you didn't get too messed up in that, good to see you back in town," Carver rasps gruffly. "What in the hell bit you though?" he asks, a hint of dismay creeping into his voice.

"Snake," comes back from the kitchen without delay, from behind a fridge door. It's a much more rehearsed sounding answer than what follows as he rummages through the fridge's innards. "Had an allergic reaction— it's straightened out, but. It's not exactly pretty, is it. You know what it reminds me of? Tissue expanders." Zachery then straightens with a frown. The door shuts with a muffled ksff of seal on metal, hard enough to be accompanied by some swearing that never arrives, and he looks back toward the living room.

He should have known, really. Inhaling as far as his lungs will allow, he sighs out more words in a pleasant tone but with enough tension running through them to pull a cart. "Coffee or tea, maybe?"

Carver's expression flattens. "Mmhmm."

Snakebite had, honestly, been his first thought, followed by insect sting; he's seen some pretty severe inflammation from both of those. But the more he thinks about it, the more both explanations seem… questionable.

It would've had to have been a hell of a snakebite to cause that much damage. A nest of snakes? Maybe. Except venomous snakes, being cold-blooded, are probably not going to be doing much of anything in winter, let alone hatching out; the odds of anyone encountering a nest of snakes in January in New England are staggeringly low. Unless Zachery's been vine-swinging through a snake house at a zoo or something.

"Coffee," is what Carver actually says. He doesn't press the snake thing further, at least. Not yet. Let the man sit down first.

Silence falls easily over the room, with a krrt here and there of the magpie chittering idly away to itself.

In time and after a brief fuss with a kettle, Zachery comes back out of the kitchen with a mug in each hand. His compromised gait does not make it the easiest thing to walk without spilling, but maybe it's a matter of pride that he does.

The first mug is handed over with a brief glance at the recipient's face, before he moves slowly to sit in one of the living room chairs. Asking with poorly veiled surprise in his words, "So, how did you hear about the car?"

Carver watches Zachery shuffle laboriously into the living room; he accepts the offered cup of coffee with a nod of appreciation. Once Zachery sits down, Carver settles into the other one. At his question, though, Carver snorts. "People talk. Even if they don't have anything to talk about, they'll invent something, especially in a place like this. And a missing car isn't hard to notice." He takes a sip of his coffee; it's an actual liquid, and probably wouldn't be mistaken for battery acid, which means it's not as strong as he'd like it, but… it'll do.

He takes another drink. "So how'd you get snakebit?"

There's a look of understanding that crosses Zachery's face, a downturned stare into his coffee as he holds it on a knee. His free hand is rested against the outside of a leg, fingertips pressed idly into muscle.

"Pissed off a snake." Simple as that. Before anything else can be said about that, he casts a heavy look of disbelief into Carver's direction and adds quickly, "But I doubt it's my poor rapport with the wildlife that got you to grace my doorstep." Which is a thing he's clearly delighted by, given the half-lidded stare and raise of eyebrows coupled with completely flat tone of voice.

Carver snorts at Miller's response. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer; that one's fair. He's still pretty skeptical about it. "Must've been a helluva snake," Carver responds… but he's not going to press harder on that one.

"Planning a trip to the Safe Zone. Figured I'd confirm or disprove the rumor about your car, for one thing, so I'd know if I could get you to drive me, or if I needed to secure alternate transport. For another — since it seems the rumor's true — figured I'd ask if there was anything you needed while I was in town." He hadn't exactly been planning all of that, but he is running low on beer. And a gun or two wouldn't be amiss, either.

"That is— incredibly neighbourly of you. Thank you." The words leave Zachery gradually, as if there's something getting in the way of them before he says them aloud. As if he doesn't quite believe them, and the heavy weight of thoughtful consideration continues to thread itself through his words when he says, "I'm more or less set for… winter, and some of the spring, provided I manage to get my hands on some fresh produce here and there. This shouldn't be an issue."

He pauses, grips his coffee mug, and brings it up to his face. There's a stiffness to it even now that he's sitting. "My car could have broken down," he notes, over the rim of his drink, "Or stolen. Or maybe someone destroyed it on a whim. I don't have to have crashed it to have lost it."

"You brought Guinness for a housewarming present," is Carver's retort to Zachery's slanderous allegations of neighborliness. "That seems mighty neighborly to me. Seems offering to take your money and grab your groceries while I'm out is the least I can do. That way only one of us has to deal with people."

At Miller's suppositions about the possible state of his car, Carver raises an eyebrow. "Was it?" he asks bluntly.

The mug comes back down over Zachery's mismatched eyes narrowing. "I did crash it. But!" His eyebrows come up as some errant thought pulls at a corner of his lips, and he sits ever so slightly straighter, shoulders squaring. "It was my very first traffic collision, so I feel like it can be excused on the grounds of my previous relation with road safety being one of utmost care and responsibility."

"Duly noted, Dr. Miller," Carver rasps, raising his cup and taking another sip of coffee. It's not like he's going to judge for getting in a car wreck; God knows Carver has wrecked a vehicle or six in his time, and not all of them had involved IEDs.

He falls silent, eying his coffee; still half a cup left. No need to hurry, though. "Might be a few days before I get the trip lined up; I'll have to see who's willing to give me a ride," Carver rasps after a moment. "I'll check back with you once I've got transport locked down."

For a moment, it looks like Zachery is about to object to the last thing mentioned. But just as he opens his mouth, the magpie pushes off from its perch and goes flapping past his face, landing on the top of its cage with a proud noise that almost manages to sound less than halfway to hellish.

Zachery shoots the bird a glare, and without taking his eye off of it, asks, "Have you met Dr. Yeh?" His focus comes back to rest on Carver, shoulders drawing forward. "If you were to swing by hers in a few hours, she should be able to lend you a car."

Carver's gaze shifts immediately to the bird as it conducts its fly-by of Zachery's head before alighting on its cage, and again his scowl deepens into a frown. That had been… odd. Carver is not a fan of odd. At Zachery's question, Carver's attention returns to his host.

"Dr. Yeh?" Carver rasps, his gaze shifting back to Zachery. "No, I haven't met Dr. Yeh. Is he a medical doctor, too? And just how many doctors are there in this town, anyway?" he asks, sounding a bit incredulous.

"None practising except yours truly, that I'm aware. But no, Yeh is- something else," Zachery says this with some tension in his shoulders that he seems to immediately try to stretch back and away. His tone is casual, the bird ignored as it hops around to find just the right spot on top of the bars.

"Yi-Min," he amends, "is a person who likes to be of use to people. The more often, the better, even if she might not admit it." He cants his head as the bird makes its noises in the background. "You may have to speak quite loudly when you visit, though, she's gone a little deaf from some recent experiment."

He gestures vaguely with one hand, before lifting his mug to drain the rest of his coffee — and maybe to help hide the expression on his face as he tips his face upward.

"Yi-Min, huh…" Carver murmurs to himself, his eyes more on the bird than Miller. That is a name he knows, though he'd not been expecting to hear it here; seems he'll finally have a chance to meet Kara's Yi-Min after all. "So noted, then."

He takes another drink of his coffee; the cup's almost empty, which means he's just about ready to leave. But first…

"Surprised to see you've got a pet, Dr. Miller," Carver rasps thoughtfully, squinting at the bird. "Much less an indoor one."

"Trust me, I'm just surprised as you are," Zachery lets slip before he realises, and looks momentarily stunned before - just laughing rather than find some smooth deflection. "It's not technically mine," he adds quickly, which doesn't really explain anything but does seem to continue to amuse him further. "And, honestly, I hope to be rid of it soon. I didn't especially like birds to start with, really, and the longer I've had this one around, the deeper that opinion has plummeted."

As if on cue, the magpie loudly clambers to the open door of its cage and - using its partially outstretched wings for balance - dips inside, lands on its floor and upends a small food dish. When that's done, it lifts itself as high and upright as its little legs will let it stand to stare directly at the back of Zachery's head.

Zachery holds his one-eyed gaze on Carver, sits perfectly and says pleasantly, "It's a little shit."

"Wheh heh heh," argues Alf, in dissonant mimicry.

Carver squints at Zachery's slip, and nothing the other doctor says really seems to come close to making any more sense of anything. "At least it's not shitting all over your house," Carver grumbles, eying the bird. "And it seems to be minding your door for you."

Carver takes the opportunity to finish the last of his coffee, setting his cup down. "How'd you get it, anyway? And why are you keeping it around if you hate it?"

Small blessings. The mention of bird shit has Zachery's mouth press into a thin line, as if to say - yes, let's imagine this to be even worse, shall we.

His eye darts to the cup as it's set down, free hand coming up idly to rest at the side of his neck. "It refuses to leave." This is not a lie, but it leaves him without any conviction. Knowing something else needs to follow it up, he quickly adds, "It's— complicated." Then, without pause, he changes his mind again, letting his head fall to one side while fixing Carver with a perplexed looking grin before deciding promptly, "Actually, no, it's not. It's not at all. I'm being watched. Isn't that strange, Dr. Carver? Does that really seem necessary."

Carver had been making the pre-preparations to extracting himself from the comfortable chair he's in when Zachery drops that bombshell. Carver's eyes shift to Zachery, his squint intensifying. "Watched," he repeats.

He's silent for a moment, considering that. Running the numbers. "Who. Why," he asks flatly.

Zachery's jaw sets, and he visibly mulls over different possible answers. It's so close, The truth is so close. It's right there. He could just say it.

But. Is selfishness worth it. How much will exposition help, here.

"Because I was in an accident," he hears himself say, instead, with some of the energy draining back out of him again. The reluctance to say the words is real, just as they would be if he really did have a babysitter bird for this reason. He sits up, then shoves a hand into the armrest to push himself up, leaving the mug behind on a side table. "… After getting punched in the face several times. And then I got snakebitten. Let's call it — concern, shall we. Perhaps you should ask Dr. Yeh about it." He does not sound happy about this deal.

He turns, just enough to fix the bird a narrow-eyed look. Or maybe just so he doesn't have to look Carver in the face after this particular lie.

Carver's expression doesn't change… but something in his eyes does, as he regards Miller for a long moment. You don't get to be an old bastard in his line of work unless you've got a sharp nose for trouble, and right now Carver's nose is detecting the faint reek of what he can only call fuckery hanging about Zachery's words.


"Well. Doctor Yeh sounds like a very compassionate sort. Watching over you when you're down on your luck like that," Carver says, his voice sounding uncharacteristically mild. He raises his mug to his mouth; it's empty, but the bird wouldn't be able to see that from its current vantage. "So she's a bird whisperer, then?"

"She's not." Not a compassionate sort? A bird whisperer? Both? Zachery's already picked up his mug again and is on his hobbling way back to the kitchen, movements stiff from effort and pain alike. He tries to keep it out of his voice but manages only a partial success. "But-" The bird noisily pecks its food dish and hops back onto the threshold of its missing door. Zachery sighs, finishing his sentence: "-She knows one."

Once he's limped far enough to set his mug down, he looks back over to Carver with a furrowed brow. "What are you going into the Safe Zone for?"

"Good to know," Carver rasps, idly watching the bird. There's a delay in the information chain, then. That is good to know. At Zachery's question, though, Carver looks towards the kitchen. "Booze. Tools. Guns. Bullets. Drugs. Why, think of something you wanted?"

"I have, actually." Staring out through a kitchen window and into the barren scenery that is the overgrown excuse for a yard, Zachery leans with both hands into a countertop in front of him and adds in a tone that is equal measure reflective and uncertain, "Do you think you could find me sixteen birthday cards? What's on them doesn't matter, so long as they're all different. I'll pay you back, and extra for the trouble, of course."

Carver's eyes narrow, just a bit. He nods. "Will do," he says. He takes a moment to lever himself out of Miller's chair, following Miller to the kitchen to hand off his mug, and then gives the man a nod. "I'll go check with Dr. Yeh this evening about a car. Good to see you again, Dr. Miller," he rasps, extending a hand for a shake.

Zachery takes the mug, and sets it down next to the other one, shifting his weight as he reflexively meets the handshake. Practiced and more firmly than the look he gives Carver, surprise still lingering in the way his jaw rolls forward before he clears his throat.

"You as well, Dr. Carver." Just like that, his expression straightens out again to something else - something more confident, even if it's fueled by habits past, complete with chin lifting as his posture rights itself with a forced smile and less forced apology. "Sorry about having you wait in the cold, and thank you for…" he pauses, mouth open, for just a second. "… For fact checking on those rumours."

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