Perfectly Pleasant


nicole_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Perfectly Pleasant
Synopsis Zachery and Nicole navigate whatever this is.
Date April 27, 2019

Dirty Pool Pub

It’s been a couple of days. It isn’t as though they exchanged phone numbers or anything. First names only. But here she is, sitting at the bar of the Dirty Pool with a gin and tonic in front of her, waiting to see when the good doctor might come along.

There’s a little revulsion reserved for herself for this little foray of hers. It isn’t as though she has feelings for him. This is just about sex, and while she’d be sex-positive if someone were lamenting this situation to her right now, she’s more critical of herself. But even if she doesn’t see him, or if he doesn’t want to see her, she’ll get a drink out of the situation and blow off some steam that way.

Nicole hates that she’s so tense since her reassignment. It should be a relief. She still has a job, which was not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination. She no longer has to work out her contingency plans for how to provide for Pippa if she were to be thrown out on her ass. Instead, she gets to work with the father of her child.

That prompts her to swallow down half the contents of the lowball in front of her.

A new work week means Zachery has not been present at the pub today. It was through completely unexpected means that he got a whole week off from his duties at Elmhurst Hospital, but that beautiful time of freedom has ended now, and he's only just making it back when the pub's working hours are finally in full swing.

He comes through the door, pale scrubs still on underneath poorly done up black pea coat. He might be feeling somewhat better about his prospects lately, but the hours spent as an orderly well may literally be draining the life out of him, for how empty even his functional eye looks when he makes his way through past few regulars by shoving past the shoulder-first.

It's funny what having a pub directly adjacent to your 'home' will do to your evening rituals. His feet take him over to the bar as if purely out of habit, seemingly noticing nothing and no one around him except for when he manages to walk far enough to pile both arms up onto the bartop and humourlessly scrapes a voice forth to order, "Bruce. Guinness."

The beauty of this place is the distance from the (self-imposed) formality of Fort Jay. It's like giving herself permission to let her hair down from the literal and proverbial tightly-wound bun, dress down and try to be someone who doesn't worry about the state of the world beyond her own door.

She's bad at it.

It's apparent in her attire first and foremost. Sure, she's wearing the leather jacket she had on the other night, but she's otherwise still dressed for work. A simple black A-line dress over a pair of sheer nylons and zebra-striped kitten heels.

"What's up, Doc?" is corny beyond belief, but Nicole manages to keep herself from grimacing at it. Her elbow rests on the bar, her chin nestling into the hollow of her palm, fingertips settling along one side of her jaw.

It is not something Zachery hasn't heard before— and by the way he doesn't even turn to look at the person addressing him, it may be something he has heard one too many times. At the very least.

His Guinness has not arrived in the 3 seconds that he wishes it had. It's taking longer. This is a drag. He may as well look to his side to see who is trying to get his attention today — oh. "Nicole." His voice is no less tired, but surprise sinks its claws into his tone and drags it slightly up, along with his eyebrows previously crumpled down in disquiet.

He doesn't really… do anything else. Arms still on that bartop like a pile of long-forgotten laundry, his attention just sort of frozen on her face. Presumably, there's some attempted processing going on in his head. Maybe, just maybe, he had not counted on seeing her again.

Nicole knows that look. She wore it herself a lot during her college days. Oh, great. I didn't think you were going to show up again. She smiles, tight at the corners. "Shitty day? I know the feeling." She leaves the question rhetorical, leaving the notion of initiating conversation up to him.

Cursing herself for feeling sick in the pit of her stomach, she turns her attention back to her drink, swallowing down another good portion of it to try and combat the disappointment that's taking up residence somewhere in the vicinity of her chest, where her heart and mushy feelings might be. This, not coincidentally, is also meant to give him an out, should he not want to converse with her at all.

Fuck. She'll have to find another bar to drink at.

It's very much not a look Zachery is used to giving, not even a little, and he appears utterly oblivious to the implications.

His face doesn't change much, though he does tear his gaze away from her eyes, and down to her expression, and then down to that drink being downed. "You know what, it's looking up, actually."

This comes before a pint of Guinness is nudged - from behind the bar - into his still unmoved arms, which are taking up the space the drink would otherwise be placed. Get outta here. He pulls back with a start, and straightens to adopt a slightly more respectable posture. Certainly a little more alert, at the very least.

Failing to keep her expression as casual as she'd like it to be, she slants a look over at him from the corner of her eye and smiles again. Fainter this time, but with a far more genuine sort of pleasure behind it. "Is it?"

She sits up a little straighter as he adjusts his posture, picking up her glass and holding it against her collarbone as she looks him over, trying to decide if he's just being polite. "As it turns out, so's mine."

Once his drink has been set down on the actual bar, Zachery moves to foot a barstool away from where it stands next to Nicole, but just slightly too far in. Maybe sneaking a look at her outfit while he estimates whatever the appropriate amount of elbow room between the two of them should be.

His face is still largely stuck on vague surprise, no visible attempts at pleasantness to go with the way his left eyelid twitches up just slightly, in thought, as he settles in. The unmistakable stale smell of hospital lingers in the dense wool of his coat. "Is it Bruce? It is, isn't it. The man's a hoot."

The last word leaves him like it's the first time he's ever said it. And it's probably the last.

"Always," Nicole agrees with a grin that's flashed to the bartender. "You showing up doesn't hurt either." That's rather more sincere than she'd like it to be, but here she is, sitting in the bar and glad to see him when she was hoping to. This is a terrible idea. A terrible situation. A terrible state to be in.

While he smells of the sterility of a hospital, she smells faintly of ozone. Like the air just before a storm. He'd undoubtedly noticed it on her last time and it clings to her like a perfume.

"You know, it's sort of my business to make sure things hurt less once I show up," Zachery jokes, though halfway through the sentence, he seems to lose some steam. Alright, so his day involved mostly the carrying around of equipment and triple checking devices and vitals that had already been double checked by others, but Nicole doesn't need to know that, now does she.

He knows all too well, though. His pint is pulled close, and a grin finally just starts to make its way onto his face, even if something else still appears to be holding the brunt of it at bay. Pulling his drink in to absently curl an arm around it, he adds, "So. Tell the doc what's ailin' ya."

While she wouldn't judge, what she doesn't know won't come between them in this moment. "You are both not the right kind of doctor for what's ailing me and the perfect doctor for what's ailing me." Dark brows jump once toward her hairline then settle back over blue eyes sparkling with mischief.

What she's saying is that she really should be talking to a therapist about her issues, but here she is, looking for sex instead. It's a vicious circle of self-destruction that she convinces herself is good for her mental health at least in the short-term. Her personal life is lived day to day, in that way that someone who isn't used to stability does.

Nothing about what she's looking for here speaks to stability.

"Mmh." A contemplative noise, maybe. It leaves Zachery just before he lifts his pint to his face, only his fingertips to the glass, and takes a drink the only way that seems to be appropriate lately— far too much at once, head tilting back while half of the dark liquid disappears down his throat.

Only once he sets it back down again does some mirth return to his expression, though less on his lips and more up top, with the eye that resettles on Nicole, showing renewed focus. "Funny. It's been a good few years since I was assigned any diagnostics," he pauses to run a thumb across his mouth, "and I've had to sit across some pretty abhorrent people— but I don't think I've ever specifically wished for a condition to be chronic before."

Perhaps it should be a red flag when he downs half of his beer in one go, but that would possibly make her a hypocrite, with the way she can put alcohol away herself. She blames it on politics and can imagine the medical profession inspires a similar desire for numbness. The last of her gin is drained and the glass settled on the bar.

Nicole finds herself chuckling at his commentary. Hoping she has a chronic case, indeed. This should be where she rethinks her life choices – and she is, somewhere in the distance recesses of her mind – pays up her tab and walks out the door. Instead, she turns in her seat and reaches out with one foot to let it rest on the lower rung of Zachery's.

"Buy me a drink?"

That, for whatever reason, cracks the veneer. A chuckle leaves Zachery a little too suddenly, conflicting with the learned behaviour of upkeeping his best impression of 'calm and collected'.

He is no less at ease for it, though, finally grinning as he turns away and waves Bruce over, leaning forward on an elbow behind which his own glass still stands. "Another drink for the pretty lady, please, Brucie. Let's work a little harder to turn this one into more of a regular, shall we?" The groan coming from the back room as Bruce makes his way back over suggests that, maybe, he's a little sick of someone's banter on a daily basis.

The doctor-not-currently-a-doctor shoots Nicole a look, "What… would you like?"

"A gin martini," is almost too fancy for this place. "Very dirty. Three olives." The lady knows exactly what she wants, it would seem. And she's quick to give a wink to Bruce the Barkeep and murmur a thank-you as he sets about mixing up her request.

Nicole considers where to steer the conversation from here. "I thought maybe we could get to know each other better," she offers. "If that's your thing." Which is to say she's allowing him the opportunity to say that this is just what it is and that details are unnecessary strings.

"My thing." Zachery echoes this with some amount of amusement. He drinks some more of his stout in thought, though this time at least not immediately downing what's left of it. Something nudges his shoulders down a little, and his grin weakens ever so slightly while his brow pensively lowers.

"I don't really know." Is his answer, finally, before he quickly amends, lifting a hand to his face to rub at the stubble on his jawline, "What my thing is, I mean."

Nicole nods her head slowly, processing what that means, precisely. Either that he isn't interested and doesn't want to be as direct about it as she's allowing him, or he really never has this kind of connection with another human being – something she can empathize with – and isn't sure what to do with it. "I'm a war veteran," seems a decent place to start. She taps her leg, where she has a scar he's seen before. "That's where I got that." But not where she got the fresher one at her shoulder.

He's already agreed to buy her that drink – not that she won't take responsibility for her own tab if he should change his mind – so this seems the appropriate moment to lead with possibly the biggest deal-breaker she can offer. "I have a daughter." He might have suspected that already, given his ability and the physical tells. "She's seven."

Above all else, her first reveal elicits interest from Zachery. He leans a little closer, head angling ever so slightly with his good eye in her direction, gaze turned briefly downward as she taps her leg. Maybe a little longer than necessary.

But that second reveal brings it right back up to her face. The arm around his Guinness pulls it closer, and his grin wanes further. To say he was clueless, indeed, would be a lie. But prepared to respond to the reality of it… he is not.

"… Alright." His answer comes quietly, more flatly than his words before. There is no attempt to hide an… unease, of sorts. The kind that comes with shaky ground. But his eye doesn't leave her face. Shaky ground calls for one of two things— leave and find more stable footing or… stay and maybe find something, anything, to hold onto. After sucking in about as much air as his lungs will allow him, he asks into an already lifted drink, "What's her name?"

Glug, glug.

Let's hope what he finds is stable enough for him not to buckle.

That there isn't a dust cloud in the next seat in the shape of Zachery, while the man runs out the door, is something of a surprise to Nicole. She lifts her brows briefly. Really? "Pippa," is her easy response. "I'm not trying to…" No, she absolutely is attempting to see if that will scare him away and it's unfair to pretend otherwise.

"What I'm trying to say is that I'm putting that out in the open and you can do with that information what you will. If you'd like me to go fuck off, I won't be upset." It's not like she's pulling out her phone and showing off photos of her little girl, although she could. Still, Nicole knows it's a barrier. It's always been a barrier when she's attempted to pursue any sort of meaningful relationship. It's better to lead with that info and let her prospects dry up than risk seeming like she's leading someone on.

"We don't even know what this is, yet." The pint glass is empty now, not-so-miraculously, and Zachery sits up in his seat just enough to reeeaach behind the bar to slide it into a full sink of water rather than leave it in front of him. Not leaving her much time to respond, he continues with - "Hell, when we last met, I was half expecting you to be the result of some… errant madness, a delusion made real. Once you'd left, I was ready to accept you'd been reclaimed by wherever…" Vague hand motion toward the door, "wherever cryptids make their home."

Again, his lower eyelids give a twitch, and though he turns back to look at Nicole, his one-sided glazes over a little. Maybe in quiet panic. "… You know. In a nice way." Definitely not smooth, but still about as genuine as any words between them so far have been.

The look on Nicole's face says that she definitely did not take that in a nice way. Not initially, at least. Her mouth pulls into a frown, suddenly defensive. "I'm not saying it's anything," she points out, despite what her implications might have been. "I just know it's usually nothing once I have to call the babysitter to check in." Hopefully explaining the sad truth of it will make her seem less… whatever it is that he's thinking of her right now.

Tongue rolls over teeth as her glass is raised off the bar. Downing a considerable portion of her martini, she shrugs her shoulders and sets her glass aside again after lifting out the skewered green olives. "Cryptid is one of the most unusual names I've ever been called. And I've been called some choice names." Not that she's sour about it.

Well, maybe a little.

How does one talk themselves out of trouble? It's a mystery. Zachery is not sure he's ever managed such a feat, at the very least not on purpose.

Maybe it's best he tries something else, then. The equivalent of throwing a fire blanket over the flames he's just sparked and hoping they'll die due to lack of oxygen, he pulls the conversation back to an earlier point. A peace offering, perhaps, as his nose wrinkles in a way it might have if he were in physical pain. "I have…" He sits up straight, shoulders rolling back and voice level.

"I have no children. My career has died in my arms but I've refused to let it go for years now. Prison felt more like home than it ought to have for how awful it was, and I suspect quite a lot of my life decisions have cut my life expectancy in half. Which, considering my age," a shallow sigh interjects as if this is a thing he is not terribly fond of thinking about, "means I may as well be dead where I sit. Whatever this is, the existence of a child alone — of… Pippa — and her inevitable bindings are not going to be enough of a deterrent to keep me from something I actually like."

Alright, maybe more like… 17 fire blankets. He swallows hard, his gaze searching Nicole's expression. Maybe to check if he hasn't suffocated her along with the flames. With a tone that implies that it's preceded by a lot less thinking and maybe slightly more feeling, he tacks on, "Something I want. For once."

Nicole’s chin lifts slightly as Zachery begins to speak. When he finishes, it dips down again toward her chest in a slow nod. Okay, that’s something. She can forgive him for the awkward compliment that came out more like an insult in the face of him trying. “Something you want,” she repeats carefully and nods again.

“I work for SESA,” she offers in a soft voice. “I’ve been only ever married to my work. I should probably have gone to prison, but I fought in the war instead.” In case he was worried that prison might be a dealbreaker for her, it isn’t. Being a war hero has been great for forgiving past associations. “Pippa’s father and I are still friends, so I’m not raising her alone. She has four adult siblings.” She neglects to mention that one of them is a full sibling. It’s complicated.

“Pippa is the center of my universe, I live and breathe my job, but… I want to pursue something more.”

While Nicole speaks, Zachery's gaze wanders slowly downward. He's listening, this much is clear, but there's something about him that withdraws a little. Just a little.

This is, quite possibly, more than he expected to say before Nicole fucked off. And she's still here. And still sharing. Information he is logging away in the filing cabinets of his mind. For later.

Though there is one thing he'd like to address. And he does so after dragging his elbow back onto the bar so he can lean a cheek into his fist to state, looking Nicole in the eyes again, "… And you're looking to pursue this with a war criminal." His eyebrows twitch higher over functional and non-functional eye both. Too calmly, too perfectly timed to be anything but facetiously. "Oh, excuse me. 'Ex-war criminal'."

“If you were that bad,” Nicole reasons, “you wouldn’t be sitting here, you’d still be sitting in prison.” That’s not to say that she doesn’t have concerns, just that she also believes in second chances. “A lot of people did things during the war that they regret.” Herself included. “Letting it hang over you for the rest of your life… That’s up to you, but I’m not going to hold it against you unless it becomes an issue.”

A sip is taken from her drink, brows raised as she looks at him over the rim. Is it going to be an issue?

Something changes, now, in Zachery's expression. There is… a smile? A genuine one. Something that looks almost out of place for how rare it is. It's not content, the way he's looking at her, not quite. It's… endearment.

Like she's said something cute, and he's just going to sit here and stare at her for a bit, still leaning in on his fist. Yes hello.

Amusement sparkles in Nicole’s eyes. “What are you staring at?” She asks with a ghost of a smirk playing on her lips. If she had to guess, she’d say he’s not used to people giving him any sort of pass when it comes to his checkered past.

Setting her glass aside, she folds her arms under her chest and fixes him with a challenging stare.

"I'm staring at you," comes an easy answer, but no less true, from Zachery. "At your scars. The ones everyone can see. They're all over you. In the way you doubt yourself, the way you suffer patiently, the way you're keeping up your little dance…"

His free hand comes up, onto the bartop, index and middle finger stuck out to casually walkwalking itself over toward Nicole's side. At least, before his hand is suddenly and promptly pulled back a few 'steps'. It's repeated, once, before it simply leaves that hand standing. "Never quite reaching that destination, are you." His tone of voice is not unkind, but certainly also not the opposite. Challenging, perhaps.

It isn’t often that she’s called out the way he’s just done. Nicole’s posture stiffens slightly, not quite offended, but not necessarily as amused by his assertions as she was a moment ago. Put her in a room full of old white men - politicians - and she’ll be all smiles and confidence. This is not her stage. She’s always at her clumsiest when she’s attempting to be genuine with another human being.

It was so much easier when she was just on the prowl. Looking for the next person to invite into and then summarily kick out of her bed. Not that she couldn’t turn this into that, but… She’d like something else. Something more.

“And what’s my destination?” Her tone is guarded, but not cold.

With every little sign of discomfort, Zachery's smile turns more into a grin, pulling slightly to one side. He, too, was once in his element in a own room of old white men, but this is no longer the case. This… this is much better.

"It's forward." He says this with utmost confidence, though in a slightly lowered voice. He knows it's not as easy as it sounds, but it's the only answer he's got. Again, his hand starts moving. Tappa tap tap, walking over in Nicole's direction in exaggerated little steps, until it's finally close enough. Not to her, but to her glass, so that he can just reach and grab it while wondering aloud, in a much, much cheerier tone, "What's this like?"

Maybe it's his own way of offering an out. Maybe he's just being a dick, staring directly at her as he steals a mouthful. Likely, it's both.

Nicole quirks a brow, watching as her glass is absconded with and a sip stolen from it. “Go ahead,” she allows with a shrug. “You’re paying for it, after all.” There’s a good amount of olive juice in that cocktail, just the way she likes it. It makes it almost savory in balance with the juniper taste of the gin.

Part of her brain is screaming at her to stand up and walk away. Telling her that this is demeaning, letting him talk to her this way. But there’s a larger part of her that’s used to being treated this way and finds it… Well, not quite comforting, but familiar. The devil she knows.

“You like watching me squirm,” is just an observation. That she’s visibly doing it is not flattering to her, but she blames herself entirely for the situation. He’s taking advantage of the openings she’s left him and he can hardly be blamed for that. Her mouth goes small and hard, trying to decide how she wants to approach this. It seems she’ll have to endure a certain amount of ribbing if this is something she wants to pursue. She’s had worse, for sure.

The drink… does not seem to agree with Zachery. He should have known, really, but then that is usually the way of things. His index finger puuushes against the glass until it's back where he stole it from while he swallows back a look of regret and amusement both. Hrk. At least her drink is safe now? "What can I say," a chuckle escapes him, empathetically. "You're fun to watch, and you'll be more fun still once you work out those kinks of yours. Which you will."

As if that reminds him, somehow, for no reason at all, he adds a little more slowly, "Besides, you seemed to like squirming well enough."

In spite of herself, color floods her cheeks. She takes her drink back and swallows more down to try and cover… or at least dull the sensation of her embarrassment. “Prick,” she mutters, but without any real venom behind it.

You,” she begins, “keep people at arm’s length because you—” She stops herself. It’s childish to throw observations in his face the way he did to her just for the sake of it. “Because that’s how you prefer it, I guess.” Nicole sighs softly, neither disappointed nor dismayed. “I can live with that.” For now or indefinitely, she isn’t sure. “But I’d like to have dinner together sometime, if you’re game.” It legitimizes the whole banging a strange man thing if she turns it into an attempt at dating. She’s at the age, she thinks, where she should be trying to put down roots. Or at least playing the part of someone who wants to.

Zachery narrows his eyes when she interrupts her own sentence, and then further still when she amends it with that end. If he considers it the truth, it's not showing on his face.

Whatever part this whole scenario requires him to play, regardless of age, it does not come easily to him. So much so, that when the dinner is brought up, it visibly takes him by surprise, sending him sitting upright in his seat, fingers curling into his palms. "A dinner." It's not like it's a huge ask, but still he looks a little stunned. Until suddenly, that grin widens again. He's got an idea. "It's been a couple of, ah —…" Months? Years? "Decades. But I think I know just the place."

It pleases Nicole to catch Zachery off his guard with that suggestion. One brow ticks up in skeptic amusement at his assertion. “Decades? And you think the place still exists? Where are you going to take me, Kansas?” There are very few places that are intact after the war, after all. That’s the sad truth of it.

She leans forward, fingers curled around her drink as she does. “That’s a yes, then?”

"Decades," Zachery echoes, in correction, "since I've eaten dinner with someone else by choice."

To most people in his situation, this would be a point of shame, no doubt. For him, no such emotion is present in the way he rolls his shoulders back and angles his head upward to observe Nicole's reaction. As if he's just waiting for something to laugh at. Waiting for another squirm, maybe. It's a confidence he doesn't often get to experience, and he's all too quick to tack on: "No takebacksies. That's a yes."

“That makes more sense.” Nicole tips her head to one side, granting that she misunderstood. In his favor? Maybe? But the reality makes her feel a little better about her dry spell. It’s only been about eight years since she’s seriously dated anyone. Or even not seriously dated anyone.

By choice is noted and filed away for later, when she’ll mull over the significance of it. If she’s amused or feels pity for him in any way, she doesn’t show it. Instead, she smiles wide when he agrees. “Good. No takebacks.”

That smile is rewarded with a small spot of silence from Zachery's side, first as he stares at her, and then as he shoves his hands into the pockets of his coat that he still hasn't taken off. The cogs are turning in that head of his, trying to work… something or another out. Something possibly fun.

"First, though…" He finally says, pushing away from the bar and spinning around on his seat to lean against it with his heels dug into the floor. "First we'll have to make a pit stop. Before we do dinner, I'd like to meet you in front of Elmhurst Hospital. We'll work out the dates, still. For which I will need a phone number." Cue expectant stare, head angling with a slight deepening of crow's feet. Perfectly reasonable, no? Normal date affair.

His silences aren’t the most comforting, but they’re still feeling each other this out, so it’s understandable. Not everyone is trained in the art of smalltalk, after all. “That your day job?” she asks of the hospital. It seems reasonable enough, given the scrubs and the smell that’s distinctly hospital-like. Not entirely unlike the backroom, but not enough like it to account.

“Give me your phone.” Nicole holds out one hand with blue-painted nails, expectant. “I’ll put my number in your contacts.” Perfectly reasonable request if she’s trying to initiate a date. If it goes completely sideways, it’s not like she can’t block his number.

There is a chance she'll have to block three.

Zachery is rummaging through his pockets already— there may be quite a lot in there. But it doesn't take long before nimble fingers lift a phone halfway out— then another, then another. One of them stays in his grasp, the others drop down back down into the fabric of his coat.

"It's a means to an end." A vague answer, while he unlocks his phone with a press of a button and a thumb-swiped pattern across the screen. Two more taps and a bounce of the whole phone between fingertips later to flip it Nicole-side. With… a look on his face that might indicate that being comforting is not his main priority.

It's on an add contact screen and everything. No snoopin'. Or at least not this obviously.

Fortunately, she’s not the type to snoop in someone else’s phone. Not without good reason, and those usually require a warrant. Taking the phone in her hands, she rapidly taps on the screen, putting her contact information. First name, last name, number, and even an e-mail address. Now he knows how to get in touch with Nicole Varlane.

Handing the phone back, still on the contact screen, she smiles. “There you go. Shoot me a text so I have your number, alright?” Not that she doesn’t answer her phone if she doesn’t recognize the number. Being in her line of work means she answers every call so long as she’s available to do so, whether she knows the number or not.

"I'll get right on that." Zachery answers dutifully, grin ebbed into something a little more restrained as his fingers make quick work of something on his phone once it's handed back.

When he's done, he lifts a fixed stare to her face with eyebrows patiently raised over mismatched eyes.

She may not even check her phone now. But once she does, it will be there to tell her:

Unknown: Your face looks better in red.

Nicole does, in fact, check her phone. More out of habit than anything else. She squints at the message, unsure of what it means at first.

The way she suddenly lifts her gaze back to his face like lightning tells him she figured it out.

She doesn’t have a retort for it, and that makes her mad. So she pretends to be far too busy creating an entry for him in her contacts to toss a witty rejoinder. She’s got her work cut out for her with this one.

Mm. A pointed look, and a silence that tells Zachery more than it should. Just what the doctor ordered. He almost couldn't look more pleased.

He shifts his weight, leaning away from the bar to start his walk… home. Though she doesn't necessarily have to know that this is what that office in the back entails. There's a stiffness to his saunter that implies he's been on his feet too long already, today.

As he passes behind Nicole, though, he takes the time to slip a hand onto the small of her back, by way of grabbing her attention one last time. It's brief, fingertips lingering a second longer than palm as he passes her by. "Miller, by the way. Last name." You know, for her busybusy entry creating. So helpful.

It’s a common name, Miller. While it tinges some faint recognition, it’s brushed aside easily. Nothing immediately springs to mind when she puts fore and surname together, so the feeling is dismissed. For now.

Nicole turns her head and follows him with her eyes, going stiffer at the touch at her back, then relaxing again. She murmurs a thank-you, but doesn’t turn back to her BlackBerry to add the details just yet. “Talk to you soon, Doctor Miller.”

Zachery reaches the door to his office all too easily, past a few of the patrons near the tables in the back. After he fishes his keys out of his pockets, but before he slips around that nicely sound-insulated door, he just can't help but lean back to meet Nicole's eyes one more time, to call brightly, with an Office Smile to match, "Let's work on those kinks next time we meet, Miss Varlane! Good night."

Perfectly pleasant.

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