For You


nicole_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title For You
Synopsis Zachery has a plan, but Nicole questions his methods.
Date February 8, 2020

Bay Ridge: Nicole's Home

There’s a clinking and clanking of glass on glass that serves as a prelude to the door to the back patio swinging open. Nicole is carrying a plastic trash receptacle in her hands that serves as the bin for glass recycling. She does not carry the empties all the way to the collection bin at the mouth of the alleyway, but instead stops in front of where Zachery is sitting, her brows lifted expectantly.

“Did you drink all of these?” she asks, giving the bin a demonstrative shake. “The rum? The gin? The tequila?” Granted, none of those bottles were full before they ended up in the container, but it raises a certain amount of concern in her. “What is going on?

"'M celebrating."

'Sitting' is a generous way of describing Zachery's current position. Sprawled over a lawn chair in the black peacoat which may have at one point been in need of a professional cleaning but at this point is just in dire, dire need of replacing, he looks up at Nicole with a lopsided grin and one of her pairs of sunglasses sitting on his face. "OoooOOoorrr, maybe! Kicking a habit." He offers as an alternative theory, accent slicing deeper into his words than usual, but maybe not in a particularly flattering way.

"If we don't have th'stuff around," He thrusts an arm up from where he lies sits, fingers tight around the neck of a bottle of brandy. "Then it can't be drunk. Flawless."

It's been a day.

Nicole simply stands there and listens to the justification for the absolute annihilation of her liquor cabinet. Her glowing blue gaze flits from Zachery’s countenance to the bottle of brandy in his hand, which she had held out hope until this moment that it might still be standing sentinel on the shelf, and her shoulders sag.

Her gaze holds steady for a long moment until she finally sighs, and heads down to the edge of the concrete patio to dump the bottles unceremoniously into the larger bin. Once that task is completed, she turns around and starts stalking back toward the house. But she stops so she can fix A Look on Zachery that is one part concern and two parts anger. “You had better get all of that in the trash or in the toilet when it comes back to haunt you. I’m not going to clean up after you.”

She cleans up after herself enough already.

The concern and anger find no understanding in Zachery, who breathes out a sigh and pulls himself up and out of the lawn chair.

Or — well, he does his best.

"I clean up after myself - just fine, thankyouverymuch hey wait no come back— GrhK!"

That noise precedes a near fall as Zachery stands up but almost takes the chair down with him. It's fine. He stands perfectly still to observe the new ways in which the world has chosen to turn, before aiming his obscured eye to Nicole again and calling, "C'mere. Look, it's a — iiit's a good thing. I promise. I think." A pause, grin widening. "I promise I won't throw up on you?"

He even leans down and sets the nearly empty bottle (carefully) just behind him, so he can open his arms for her as a welcoming gesture.

Her eyes roll heavenward and stay looking at the overcast sky for a time as she considers whether to continue on her way back into the house, or to entertain this notion of his that he can convince her that getting obliterated on a Saturday afternoon is somehow a great thing.

The way the plastic thuds against the concrete isn’t as impressive as Nicole would like, but it serves the purpose enough. She walks back over to where Zachery sits, refusing to join him on the chair (not the least of which reason being that it would fucking collapse under them both) while not entirely spurning his affection.

She reaches out with one hand to grasp one of his, giving him a repeat of that previous look when she demanded an explanation.

"I'm… starting over," Zachery announces, having come to know that look well enough to see it through swimming vision. "See, because… oh, you! You met me — at the Dirty Pool Pub." The way he says it, like it's something grand, it might as well be Acropolis.

"That? Thing — that, that was all part of a process, and I get it now. I was breaking down the…" He lifts his free hand up to take the glasses off of his face, reaching to put them on Nicole's instead. Not smoothly, but smooth enough not to take an eye out.

Because imagine that.

"Breaking down the everything," he continues to explain. "To lead to here. And it's fine." His grin disappears a little too quickly.

“Mmhm,” Nicole hums as he speaks, her head slowly tilting to one side, her mouth bunching up small in the opposite direction, unimpressed, but willing to see where this ramble is going to lead.

His hand is hastily dropped when he sets the sunglasses on her face so she can absolutely ensure he’s not about to put her damn eye out. They do not need to be a matched set, thanks.

Her head tilts the other way now, lips parted in speechlessness for a moment. Even with the dark glasses on, he can see her brow furrow behind the lenses. She reaches up then to push them up to perch atop her dark head.

“Are you high?

Nicole’s face falls, looking at once incredulous and worried. “You didn’t.” Her head turns to look toward the house. Then, she takes a half step toward it, ready to bolt inside.

"First of all, please don't run, that'dbegreatthankyou." Zachery's face does more than enough to supply Nicole with an answer, though, glasses handed off and all. One eye's enough to tell, because—

"So here's the thing," He gestures in front of him like the thing is a physical object between the two of them, and it's incredibly important that she listens. On this, the very apex of the explanation as to why it's all fine it's good don't worry about it, he… wheezes out a laugh.

He just laughs, and then says, "It's all gone."

She doesn’t run, but she does walk back the few steps toward the house in order to haul off and kick the plastic rubbish bin as hard as she can. It goes soaring across the patio, smacking into the side of the brick house, bouncing off and back toward her with enough momentum that she has to do a small jump to the side to avoid it retaliating against her.

“What the fuck?!” she demands when she whirls back on her partner. “All of it?!” She doesn’t really need him to confirm that. She can see his face just fine and it’s not hiding anything. Or at least not hiding how fucked up he is at the moment.

“My liquor. My drugs.” Nicole exhales audibly, completely suckerpunched by this state of affairs. “You just blew through all of them. In one afternoon?” Even with one eye and how positively bleary the vision must be from it, he can’t miss the telltale motion of her hair starting to lift away from her shoulders. First as simple fly-aways, then more like someone has aggressively rubbed a balloon over her head to make it all stand up.

Nicole is pissed.

“Why are you like this?” she demands.

Zachery's eyebrows go up and stay there, tail end of the laugh still persisting even if there's more regret on his face than anything else.

He puts his hands up again, out in front of him, this time as if to physically stem the tide that is his girlfriend's rage. "Many reasons!" He laughs an answer out, uncontrolled, before adding quickly, "I had a plan! I have a plan! God that is- you are a stunner, but listen, if you could not kill me and calm down to hear me out, that would be — fabulous."

His compliment seems to cause a physical shortcircuit. The storm-like fury fades and Nicole sinks down to the concrete, dropping down to sit with her legs stretched out in front of her in a V shape. “I’m not going to kill you,” she promises, seemingly slightly ashamed of herself for giving him the impression that she might.

Pressing the heels of her palms to the hollows of her eyes, she grinds against them for a moment with a loud groan. “What could possibly be achieved by getting this fucked up all at once?” Not that Nicole is a paragon of moderation, but she’s had to learn some limits. “What exactly is this plan of yours?” Her hands drop down to her thighs with a quiet slap of exasperation.

"The plan!" Zachery repeats like he'd already almost forgotten. "The plan. Issss."

He makes his way over to Nicole, coming down a little harder on his right foot than the left but - for once - not caring about the limp enough to even try to disguise it. He sits heavily down next to her, because sitting on the concrete is just a thing that's happening now.

"The plan is… I've broken myself down entirely, right? Yes?" He stares off at the nothing ahead of him like the downers in his system require an answer to keep the momentum up. Fortunately, the uppers are right fucking there to say: "Yes. So, I've taken two decades and gone from utterly boring nofunwhatsoever except every first weekend of every month to, to - to this. This utter fffucking disaster. I've lost… a lot." The more he talks, the more speech turns into a slowing slurry of thought.

At least until he shifts his weight and turns to look at Nicole again, and he puts some actual effort into saying, "But I've gained you, right? And all of the— that comes with it." He smiles, something that doesn't sit quite right on his face, and gets scrubbed away with a palm almost immediately. There's something else still there, though, in the slant of his eyebrows, in the way canine catches lip before he says, "What if I - what if we stay clean. What if we deal with this," whatever this is, "unfiltered."

There is a quiet patience as Nicole listens. For all that she’s frustrated with him, even still a little mad, she’s aware that he needs her, and that a stunt like this is just… some sort of cry for attention. Or, at least, that’s what she assumes to be true. The way that he looks at her, when he actually bothers to look at her, reminds her why he’s even here and not sitting in an interrogation room or a cell right now.

“So, let me get this straight…” Her lower lip is drawn between her teeth for a moment, biting a rueful smile as she dips her chin toward her chest and considers her words. Nicole lifts her gaze back to Zachery at her side without actually lifting her head to look at him. “You decided that we should get clean. So you hoovered all my drugs.”

Zachery opens his mouth, then closes it again. At his sides, his palms go flat against the ground. "I tried," he admits, low energy, before his face lifts and he peers into the sky. Then, he simply drops back until he's laying flat on the concrete. "God did I try. Didn't get very far, though, did I. Stopped what I'm hoping is short of…" He can't quite seem to find the words, the look of underlying worry aimed squarely at the clouds overhead.

"You had a lot." He concludes, instead. "It's in the vegetable drawer."

It takes a moment before Nicole realizes that what he tried to do was actually consume her entire stash. Her shoulders bounce in a silent chuckle, lips pressing together to keep it from entering the world.

With a sigh, she slowly leans back until she’s laying on the ground next to him. She’s not in a jacket like he is, but the cool concrete feels good against her warm skin. Subtly, her hand finds his, her pinky and ring fingers overlapping his thumb and fore.

“You could’ve at least let me join in the last hurrah with you.” Her head turns so she can look at him properly, a small smile curving her lips.

Without looking at her, Zachery shakes his head, and then goes still again. "I'm selfish." In a small series of twitches that seems almost more involuntary than not, his fingers curl lightly against hers.

"A month?" He asks the sky, sluggishly, reaching his free hand to lay a palm across his heart like that might somehow calm it. "Can we do this, please can we do this, for a month. Four weeks. Yelling about it if we have to."

It doesn’t require any thought to agree. “Yes.” If she’s honest, it’s a long time coming. Her smile takes on a faintly sad quality to it. He’s seen her self-medicate her depression at not having a child to tuck in at night. The way she ends each check-in call with a tall cocktail and an evening of staring up at the ceiling while sprawled on the couch, watching the shadows of night creep their way across the living room without really seeing anything.

He’s watched her kick into high gear and go over folders of data, searching for clues and connections. Buzzing from one topic to the next, trying to save the world, one bump at a time.

Nicole has to wonder as she studies Zachery’s form next to her, is that what I look like to him?

“Yes,” she repeats. “Haven’t been clean since I was pregnant. But I did it before, I can do it again. For you.”

For him. A welcome sentiment, surely. Even if he stays quiet in response, staring up into the sky with only the slow rise and fall of his chest to account for the life still left in him.

Maybe some thought is required.


The hand on his chest moves suddenly back to the concrete beside him, eyelids heavy as he grows slowly paler. "… Think my heart's stopped," he breathes out, before abruptly pulling to the side and offering Nicole the view of a hunched back and the telltale sound of a deluge of high proof stomach contents splattering against the ground.

Fingers brush lightly over his hand as she tries to ascertain if he’s still with her while he seems to just be breathing and not much else. When he speaks, the words that come out of his mouth kick her into a state of alarm. Propping herself up onto an elbow as he starts to do the same, she’s scrambling to her feet with the intent to run inside and retrieve her cell phone.

She freezes when he starts to puke his guts up onto her patio. Thoughts whirl through her head at breakneck speeds. Thoughts like I should call an ambulance and maybe the trash bin will be enough on the way to the hospital.

Also thoughts like there is cocaine in my crisper.

Nicole stares down at Zachery, absolutely bloody panicked.

Once Zachery's heaved up a few more coughing splutters of former liquor cabinet treasure, he sinks onto his back again.

Lying sprawled near a puddle of his own vomit (that coat was done for, anyway) he attempts to catch his breath in deep inhales and hasty exhales, all while raising a veeery slow hand up toward Nicole. With the utmost minimum effort version of a thumbs up. All good now. False alarm.

"Alright," breathe, cough, "Now let's start."

For all that she’s giving him the most unimpressed look right now, she’s quite honestly relieved. Nicole draws in a breath that she didn’t realize she’d been denying herself and scrubs a hand over her face as she bends down and hauls Zachery up by the worn lapels of his coat. “Get inside,” she tells him, pushing the empty trash bin into his hands before she nudges him toward the trio of steps that will lead him back into the house.

“I’ll get the hose.”

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