Pistils At Dawn


dumortier_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Pistils At Dawn
Synopsis Zachery comes all the way to Providence to learn something of how to fight, and goes away again with unbargained-for lessons. Something something school of hard knocks.
Date May 8, 2019

A clearing outside of Providence

Let's meet, somewhere in Providence, wherever. A field, I don't care. Wednesday, 7.30. Bring weapons. -Z

No guns. -Still Z

Meeting someone is usually not cause for much alarm; it's the amendment to bring weapons that sets off Rene's infernal curiosity.

Outside of Providence's town center are farms, farms, forest, open fields. Tinier settlements, lone wolves. Actual wolves. Steering along the paths towards an old road, Rene checks scribbles on a paper in his hand, the horse underneath of him plodding along at his own pace. Arrius is occupied by the turns ahead, and soon the feel of cracked old asphalt underhoof. Rene did bring weapons, albeit stowed on the horse save for a crossbow at his back. For what he has brought them for, he has no idea.

But Miller wanted them, so maybe he does.

Trees arch over an old turnoff, dissolving in stony chunks as it spreads out to what used to be a public park. Playground equipment is grown over, pavilions now homes for wild animals. A small pond is teeming without anyone to manage it, leaking into a small swamp. Grass is tall, rippling in the cold breeze under warm sun. Skies blue, clouds puffy, the picture of spring. All very nice and calm.

Rene checks the time.

"If this is some sort of jape, I swear to God…"

This is no place for a car. And yet one is announced by the steady thrum of an old engine. The dragging sound of tires on tired asphalt soon joins it, bits of it coming loose and sprayed to either side of the car as it approaches the park, playground-side.

A horse, here, is sensible.

A Hearse? Not so much. But there it is. A black and boxy Cadillac, over 50 years old, dirt-flecked and - from the sound of it - in need of a tune-up. Oh, and there's a red, stylised flame decal trailing after the front wheels, of course. Why wouldn't there be.

The slow ride comes to an even slower halt, making its way around potholes and over whatever growth has sprung from the cracks to come to a stop in the middle of the road.

The engine shuts off. And it stands, sun reflected on the windshield.

He can't help himself- - he stares. Sun shines off of the car, incongruous and obvious.

"I cannot believe you still have that stupid thing." Rene opens with something loving, of course. His hair glares platinum and his eyes squint across to the driver's side window. Arrius has watched placidly, as he is wont to do; as the car comes to a stop, both ears flip forward, stub of a tail flicking from habit. The horse gets a nudge, and saunters up alongside the hearse. "Okay. We're here. How's your everything doing, big shot?"

"It's not a stupid thing. She's called the Bone Wagon!" This comes from a cracked window, driver's side. Zachery's already in a full stretch across the passenger seat, kicking himself across to it to open the door on that side of the car. Alright, so maybe one of the doors doesn't open anymore. She's old. Leave 'er be.

Looking exactly the part of someone who doesn't know how to dress the part for off road exploration, Zachery steps out in pristine white dress shirt, slacks and dress shoes. It's entirely possible he's just got this set of clothes and nothing else. At least it's clean, and pressed. Not that it needs to be.

He looks less tired than the last time they met. In fact, he looks pretty content, leaning an elbow against the roof of the vehicle as he throws what looks like half a tight, forced smile at Rene. One he'd have seen many times, but more likely in a morgue than not. "You've got to stop with the names. I've told you this before. Granted," his head angles, white eye shutting halfway in a squint, "it has been a full decade."

A decent patience is required here, as Zach snipes back and goes about actually exiting the car. Arrius snorts, as if relaying Rene's inner thoughts.

"No, I remember. You're looking more rested." The blonde offers from atop the draft, smile practically blinding. "All dressed up and here? All for me? Gotta say, this is the strangest pick-up I've ever been a part of." Bone Wagon. Nice Shirts. Remote Wilderness. Rene tugs in a practiced way on his horse's reins, and the giant animal goes to knee and then onto its side; Arrius waits until his rider is off before bucking forward and back onto his feet.

The process is watched with a keen eye. Zachery wrinkles his nose at it— maybe more at the horse than at Rene, given the fact that he starts in a slow saunter away from the former but keeps talking to the latter, while slipping his car keys into a pocket.

"I'm not- Hrk!" He stops, nearly tripping over a crack in the road. Continuing to walk backward in order to throw it a pointed look, he makes a second attempt: "I'm not sure what you're implying, but I've done some thinking, and that thinking lead me here." There's something agitated about his voice, even if his movements do not readily show the same energy. His gaze trails back up to Rene's face, the vestiges of a faked smile now the more genuine beginnings of a smirk. "I have a request."

But before making it, he turns on a heel and changes direction in a lazy half-loop toward the playground.

Rene does notice the discomfort around the horse- - and while he hooks a hand around the lead, he blessedly keeps Arrius on the opposite side. The beast watches from under the fringe of mane, big brown eyes so very interested. There is an impish glint as Rene watches the minor bumbling; he does listen, his own interest piqued as well.

"Oh. A request. One that you couldn't have just messaged or called about?" Not that he minds, clearly. Some people are just bad about, you know, phone calls. About things. Rene, despite his flippancy, is still here, so he must be invested by now. "I'm kidding. It's nice to see you, even if you just want something from me." Teasing. Kidding!

"And what in the world does it have to do with weapons?" Rene lets the horse wander a bit as he trails after Zachery, a shadow.

There is a delay in Zachery's response. He's too busy making his way across grass and dirt and all things he's very much not suited to being in the middle of.

Once he manages to step carefully over a metal pole and inspects the ground below to find it to be old, cracked rubber, he calls over his shoulder, "Listen, a lot's changed since we last…" His fingers twitch inward at his sides, "… spoke before the last time we spoke," smooth, "and I feel as though you owe me."

After walking a little further on worn, cracked playground flooring, he comes to a stop amidst the black and peeking greens. "… Regardless of your opinion on that particular matter, I'd like for you pretend to be a normal person," his arms go wide, as well as his grin, "and to fight me."

Faded lines are between their feet, Rene stalling near the three point line of the rubber court. The plants have had just as good a time breaking through here too. A brow raises while Zach speaks.

Both of them when he does finally make his request. Rene laughs at first, hesitant. He matches the grinning with his own, clearly torn.

"Pretend to be a normal person… and fight you." Just so we're clear. "Is that why you wanted me to bring weapons?" A huff turns into a heartier laugh, one hand going up to smooth down his hair.. "Why?"

"Because," Zachery starts, the word drawn out before continuing with a slew that sounds like he's rehearsed the answer to this very question, "you've been in a position to get me in a lot of trouble, and yet you didn't. Because you've known me long enough for me to think you won't murder me at the first opportunity to do so, probably. And lastly, because…" his voice falters, mouth still open, and though his big grin stays, a brief crumpling of his brow suggests he's annoyed at the hiccup in his little speech, "you've seen me at my absolute worst and helped me."

This is said as though it would not be the natural way of things.

There is no pause, and in the same, cheery tone, he adds, "I've been feeling on the edge of something. And I'm going to have to learn how defend myself against it. It's only reasonable!" There. That's why.

Looks like the truth of it might be more than expected too. Rene angles his head. Hiccup of speech or not, he looks a tad surprised. It's all the truth, he knows, but having Zachery say it out loud is new. Acknowledgment.

Rene skims his own thoughts, brow deepening and eyes settling on the playground underneath their feet. Alright, that's all fair. The cheer in it coaxes another laugh out, more volume this time.

"Okay, okay." A small breath in and out to redirect himself. "Okay." The last is serious. Rene steps over to his horse and undoes a buckle on the saddle; the larger bag thuds down. "You asked for weapons… or I could always just.." He moves away, gliding to a tree and reaching out to grab a branch. The piece comes alive under touch, snapped off partway. It's more a club than a staff, and yet - -

"Or we could start fists first." Rene offers a cocked head and grin. "Depends on if you want to admit to bar buds that you got your ass kicked by a squirt."

"I may have been a bit overzealous, I realise that now," this admission comes, coincidentally, as Zachery's eyes settle on the club… staff. "And any 'bar buds' can bite me."

He glances off to the side, then back at Rene again, lifting a hand in front of him to provide— a small addendum. "You, however, cannot. I imagine that's a given, but you never know. I feel like I've got a handle on fists, or at least well enough." Let's not linger on the biting, shall we, the speed at which he's explaining implies. Something slightly more anxious slips into his voice, though his expression stays the same. "I usually end up hitting first. Can't always count on that, can I."

"I see." Rene seems easygoing about the bring weapons part; a crinkle-nosed laugh and he is leaning on the makeshift weapon rather than waving it. "Biting can be just as effective a weapon as fists. " He dwells a tiiiny bit on the biting. "No, you can't. Maybe try to choose your battles better."

"I'm not exactly Mister fucking Miyagi, you know that right?" Still, he can put up his dukes like anyone else. Rene digs the end of his stave into the dirt and shoulders off his gear, horse contentedly wandering, pulling up dandelions with his teeth.

"So, you like hitting first?" Rene tosses his braid over his shoulder and sparks a devilish little look. "Show me. I want to see what you're made of these days, mate."

Scrappy is a good word to describe him; under all that Mirkwood aesthetic, he's still twiggy- - but more like a willow switch than a sprig.

Zachery goes quiet for a bit, just listening. Standing, posture oh so perfect, out of place. Still the image of a man in corporate claws. He pulls it off well enough, even if it is a facade.

Regardless, he still looks more like he's about to try and sell Rene a bible than a black eye. Even with that white eye of his own. Even with one of his feet getting pushed ever so slightly outward to move his center of gravity lower than it was.

When he's challenged, though, he looks… uncertain. Enough to roll back his shoulders to try and compensate for it. "See," he starts, swallowing away half of his grin, "the difficulty comes when someone is expecting the punch. Which is…" His tone has not shifted from its pleasant, plastic cheeriness. But it's strained, now, his eye fixed on Rene's face and his fingers twitchy, restless at his sides. "Infuriating."


There are not usually many human-made noises emanating from the remoter areas of Providence that lay outside of the main thoroughfare of town, and the ones that do Yi-Min has come to know well.

Even from this distance where any caught words are little more than an obscure disturbance above the rustling of tall grass, she can still tell from the strange tonalities of the exclamations that these are not the voices of farmers, nor residents passing through from point A to point B to conduct their own innocent business.

Gently, she allows the leanly-built Arabian beneath her to nose towards the source of these hazy and far-off sounds for several more minutes, climbing down from him as lightly and simply as a cat once she has reached a point in the stony undergrowth where she can still dismount without being seen.

She does not raise her eyes as she makes her way closer and the burbling she hears gradually alters into the makings of audible words, but rather keeps them angled downwards curiously towards the brush she treads through, a curl of wondering recognition dawning as she identifies the articulations of both participants. Careful, careful, not to be seen until the exact moment she wishes to be. Her little figure and ability to move in an unobtrusive manner have always been a boon to her, and both serve so now as she threads through the wild bones of this abandoned park.


"Rene is correct, you know," Yi-Min Yeh’s voice observes smoothly as she watches the pair of them, arms folded, casually leaning beneath the overhanging dimness of a broken pavilion as though she had always been there. Had she?? "In a real fight, people may use anything and everything against you." Even in the stripe of shadow eclipsing her form, the smallest hint of a smile can be seen lingering on her serene expression.

"Including biting."

Infuriating, huh? Rene mimes talking with his hand as Zachery keeps going, the performance anxiety pretty obvious, teased at with a simple gesture.

"All bark, no bite, I see how it is." The blonde crosses his arms smartly, looking bible salesman Zachery up and down. He may be actually attempting to cheese the guy off- - for obvious reasons. "Just think about all the times that I- - hhh!" Yi-Min's voice sprouting out of nowhere startles him, because of course it does. Why wouldn't it?!

"I- - hello- - yes, that's right. See? Biting is valid." Rene looks over his shoulder to where the dark-haired woman waits, observing them. He turns his head back to Zachery, a hand waving. "But I promise not to bite you. Today."

Rene barely has time to finish his sentence.

It's not that Zachery isn't startled by Yi-Min, but for all the lack of action he's managed to undertake so far, his level of focus never changes. It's redirected, briefly, to where the new voice is coming from - but only just long enough for his one eye to home in on its source, before it rubberband-snaps right back to where it was.

When Rene is still looking over his shoulder, the taller of the two men BOLTS forward with a kick against the black rubber, teeth gritted and shoulder forward. The humour is gone from his face entirely.

He does not, in fact, seem to be going for a punch. He's going for a tackle, full force.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he does hear feet leave the ground; when Rene looks back at 'today', he suddenly has a foe. The smaller of the two lets out a sharp laugh; bigger isn't always better, especially when you're wearing dress shoes. Both Yi-Min and at least one horse- - Arrius currently chewing on something and looking on from afar- - get a perfectly cinematic view of Rene dancing out of the way.

His boot trails behind, sticking between Zachery's feet.

Perhaps predictably, Zachery goes sailing. Crumpling like someone who's no stranger to taking tumbles, at least, folding his arms close to himself as he hits the ground, shoulder first, and goes rolling sideways.

Once he's come to a stop on his back, he hisses out a breath— and then another, this time leaving him in a chuckle through gritted teeth. Annoyance shows in the way his hands thud back onto the ground by his side, but defeat does not come easily admitted. He'll just lie here for a bit, staring up at the sky, while amusement bubbles its way up instead, yes? Yes. "Alright. ALRIGHT, fair enough. See, lessons! Lessons. Learning. I'm trying. Maybe not the BEST audience, but. It's something."

Definitely not trying to convince himself. Nope.

That entire catastrophe of a sequence is witnessed by Yi-Min as it plays out, clear as daylight before her. Strangely enough, perhaps at least from Zachery's perspective, he does not hear a laugh over from where she is standing even though one might very well have been warranted. There is no entertainment that forms on her face, not even a bare hint of it— though there is definitely scrutiny there, distant and canny.

All that happens in terms of movement is that she adjusts the angle of her stance a little, settles herself a little more comfortably to oversee this spectacle.

She is watching Zachery directly enough for him to feel her cool, catlike gaze drill into the gradations of every exaggerated action he has taken. Into the tangle where he had collided onto his back, staring up at the blue of the sky.

It appears to be a Thing now, of Rene sliding into view while Zach chills in a heap, teetering overhead like the tips of the trees surrounding the parkland. Birds flit past the blue sky, wind whistles through rusty swings. The French Fry looks down with those crystalline eyes, studying.

"You're not wrong." Rene flashes a smile, decidedly not a hyena's grin, before he offers a hand down to Zachery. Come on, get up. "First things first… don't try to chase the little ones."

There are a few key differences between this and the last time Rene hovered over Zachery like this. The way his head angles ever so briefly back to where Yi-Min was sighted, implies that even despite her silence, his pointed awareness of her presence lingers. And even though he appears fully rested this time, the laugh he wheezes out at the hand that comes his way does not necessarily sound like he's any more mentally stable since he managed to get some rest. But once he speaks up again, at least, his voice calms. "All right. Noted…"

His knees come up, the soles of his shoes once more braced against the black beneath them. He reaches up to meet the hand offered, but clasps it too tightly. His voice lowers again. "Let them come to you." His elbow bends, his shoulders lift off the ground, and - using the leverage of the pull that first hand allows him - he REACHES up to CLASP his other hand onto Rene's shoulder, grabbing for purchase as deep and tightly as his fingers will let him. The purpose is twofold — to use all of his weight and floor-granted stability to YANK Rene sideways and down along with him, and to help himself halfway back to his feet again.

That highbrow scrutiny from Yi-Min does not waver even a little, but it does take on a slanted note of curiosity that would (probably) border more on concern if Zachery was a person of greater concern to her. As it is, the familiar, deranged lilt of his laugh— the manner in which he grasps towards Rene, seeking to take him down bodily with him—

Is he trying to learn from his prospective teacher, or murder him?

Rene has time enough to squint at the response to his hand; when Zach latches on, suspicions confirmed. The tinier man loosens himself up when he is grabbed, an amused grimace in reply to the words. Right.

His shoulder is small, and Zach has no trouble in pulling him in to flip him over onto the basketball court. Rene makes only a small thud, not very satisfying- - and what is even LESS satisfying is when he twists his hand around to snatch Zachery by the wrist before he gets away. No quips, however, just Rene's knees coming up to grab him by the hips, and his arm getting pushed off-balance. The good doctor gets his weight and gravity used against him in Rene's effort to flip them back over.

You want to wrestle? Fine.

A short-lived victory is still a victory, and Zachery sounds a, "HA-" before he is flipped like a McDonalds hamburger patty and ends it with "-AaAAFUCK!"

There's not a lot of pause past a scoff at the impact and his head pulling to one side as he tries to minimise the blind spot's claim on Rene's form - before finally using his free hand to throw a fist at the face in front of him.

The work to get back his depth perception is a tough one; Rene keeps one hand locked around wrist, his other palm pushing against Zach's face when he throws the punch. Knuckles clip him in the jaw, and thanks to horses, he's not thrown off that easily. Still, there's not much actually holding Zach down. Rene's mostly just hanging on now - - pinning is for Bigs.

Grabbing for the other wrist to latch on, Rene still has ahold of the first. "You're being ridiculous- -" Again.

Something is immediately made clear when a hand lands against Zachery's face - he does not like it. He just sort of goes limp on the ground, muscles tense, hands up, fingers splayed, and turns his head about as far away as he physically can. This, he's used to. This is the thing he didn't want.

And though he's not grinning anymore and doesn't particularly seem to be enjoying himself, there's still a— sort of half chuckle that escapes him, through a clenched jaw. His eye fixes on some plants off to the side. "I told you, I didn't know how to DO THIS. We should — start over." He gives a yank of his caught wrist. "Or maybe I've made a mistake. Coming here. Too reactionary for this sort of thing— too…" his words trail off into nothing.

Rene is hesitant to let him go, clearly; he already got lunged at once! The words get a narrow eyed look, more than the tensing away or the not-laugh. Fingers loosen a bit, but not completely; he stays sitting where he is, which in this case is atop poor Zach.

"I didn't start it. I was going to show you something… and I still do. Nobody gets anywhere without starting somewhere." Not a pep talk, exactly. More nudging then pressure. "But if you want to change your mind after all this…"

The fingers of the hand that caught Rene's jaw give a twitch, and once more, Zachery's wrist is pulled at. If he's planning on lunging again, he's not showing it. Still not looking at Rene either. Too busy trying to keep his breathing steady, trying to keep his hands from balling into fists again.

A lack of a plan for lunging does not mean he doesn't still want to. "… Fine." Terse annoyance. "Get off."

"Just - - ugh." Rene issues a long suffering sigh, mouth flattening before he swings off and pops onto his feet. Freedom for Zachery, finally. "I'm not actually your enemy here, you know that right?"

Rene doesn't wander far from where he and Zach were tangled, eyes lifting from dirt on his knees to where the big black hearse is parked. All this way and for what, exactly? The manic part kind of escapes him. And yet here he is.

The road to Zachery being back on his feet is slightly longer. One leg dragged underneath himself first, then the other. The dirt on his clothes stays there. He, too, glances briefly in Yi-Min's direction, before the straightens properly and answers, loudly enough for her to hear, "You could be." 'You' plural, maybe.

His shoulders roll back again, smudges and all. Suddenly and all at once, a restless energy comes back to him: he immediately starts pacing again, breathing picking up and his hands coming up to in front of his stomach for him to stare at them like they've failed him. "What is it, what is it," he starts again, but quietly now, mouth pulling to one side in a mix of sneer and grin both, "Maybe it's the lack of something. A tool. Maybe it's the lack of stakes. Maybe it's-" bye. Off in his own little world.

There is a pivot and a glare in answer to the question of an enemy. Zach doesn't notice, though, and Rene immediately gives up his anger. Yi-Min earns a half-look.

"Zachery." Though Rene does not do anything so bold as walk up, he does make sure he's on the side of the good eye.

Yi-Min oversees it all. Hears it all, as well. It technically takes only a short stretch of time for her to emerge from the long shade of the pavilion sheltering her nearer to where the two are recovering, but she does it slowly, with the delayed laziness of a cat climbing off its perch. There is much of everything to take in; Zachery's actions, of course, though also the dynamics of Rene's responses to them. Once she hears that accusatory 'you,' her eyes narrow meditatively at the other doctor. "The guilty man sees shadows everywhere," she remarks coolly. A little questioningly.

She snakes a plain look Rene's way after, one that says 'you were definitely his friend, I thought.' The logic behind Zachery's unhinged behavior escapes her as well.

Back towards Zach: "If you want to learn to defend yourself, this is not the conventional way of going about doing it." That much is obvious.

Though his pace slows at hearing his name, it's the word 'guilty' that has Zachery stop in his tracks entirely. He lowers his hands again, and lifts his face to look at Yi-Min, first, then Rene. Searching their faces for something, but not for long. Like he's missing something.

But… a few seconds later, and he's back to standing almost exactly as he was before, give or take a smudge or 20 and mussed hair - his back straight, grin back with a vengeance. It does not reach his eyes, though when he speaks again, there is an impatient sort of eagerness to his tone. "Okay! Let's start again."

How, apparently, he's leaving up to these two know it alls.

Knowing enough to give it, Rene gives the woman's apparent words of wisdom a raised brow. Zach seems to respond just how he expected, stopping and staring before more or less clapping his hands and going again!

"Wait a minute, here." Small hands lift up, open palmed and abating. "Your trying to pounce me clearly did neither of us any favors. It did point something out to me, though…" Rene skitters closer, hands still up until he's beside Zach, where he reaches out to snatch the other man's hand and drag him along towards a more grassy area. Come on, don't fight it.

"Before anything else you need to work on your coordination - - you have a bit of a disadvantage - -"

"From a defense standpoint, trying to tackle someone like a fat whale is— not something I have seen work for anyone," Yi-Min agrees with total helpfulness, lifting her own brow at Zachery's hard-to-read look as she preemptively trails a little further onto the side of the greenery where Rene is attempting to pull the other man, making sure she is not in a place to be in the way of either. Manic determination is still determination, she supposes, not that it may make a difference here.

Or ever. "But at least, he seems to have slept this time."

There's a definite amount of apprehension as Rene approaches, but Zachery does not budge beyond a twitch up of his shoulders and eyebrows both, in surprise. A sharp exhale leaves him like a hiss at the grabbing of his hand, but to his credit and despite the muscles in his arm tensing, he does start in an amble in the right direction.

At least… until he hears Yi-Min speak up again. The eyebrows come back down, further still, while the unhurried amble turns rapidly into heavier footfalls, his attention on her face like a magnet.

She may have moved out of the way, but don't worry, Zachery is here to fix that. He pulls abruptly into her direction with his shoulders rolling back and his claimed arm getting yanked toward himself. A sneer wrinkling his nose and his voice lowering grimly, he announces, "Change of plans."

If Rene is holding onto his hand, he's coming with. At a rapid pace, though at least he's not rushing headlong into another tackle this time. There may as well be murder in the one eye he has left.

Rene isn't watching his face, and misses the shift from awkward to angry until Zachery speaks and veers with him attached. Of course, he holds on and swivels around, immediately putting two and two together.

"Don't." Why you gotta poke him? There is the sound of a sigh behind Zach, and a fruitless dig of heel and tug of hand. But he's a man on a mission, and there's really only one thing Rene can think of to try and completely derail him- -

"Stop it- -" It's not exactly a tackle. It's more of an impression of a backpack. Rene jumps up and lands like a koala on the taller man's back, arms clasped around his neck, hoping for the best. It's more brotherly than violent, by far. This is where we've come, friend. "Don't you have a go at her, you'll regret it- -" This is for your own good.

There is some concern to be found in the stoicness of Yi-Min's gaze as Zachery whips around and attempts to cross the grass towards her, but it is still in the previous manner of homing in on her observations about him as opposed to worry about her own well-being. This fact aside, she appears unimpressed, and does not move.

"Do you think you are special?" she says in the tone of a light, curious rebuke when he is at his closest to her, letting the words hang as she watches his face— the comical sight of Rene clutching him from the back notwithstanding.

"Everybody looks stupid when they begin to learn something like this. You, me. You are not unique. But what I cannot figure out from watching is your actual goal here; whether you actually wish to learn something, or whether you are just looking for someone's face to cave in. If it is the latter, you may as well have bought a pillow, and not bothered coming all the way here to waste the time of your friend."

At the word friend, she inclines her chin slightly in Rene's rough direction, or at least the small portions of him she can see protruding from behind the bigger man's frame. This line of questioning, or at least some part of it, had arisen from consideration of him.

There's a jerk in his movement when Zachery has a pair of arms wrap around him, but he fights his way forward still, attention unwavering. A little slower, a little more clumsily, but forward nonetheless.

Yi-Min's question does not help persuade him. In fact, it only seems to serve to quicken his pace, one elbow jabbing at what it can find of Rene's form and his hands already curled into fists in preparation for… for who knows, honestly. The comment about caving in someone's face does not seem to reach him as a deterrent.

He arrives just as she finishes speaking, standing in front of her, head tilted upward at the increased pressure around his neck, eye still anchored to her face. Breathing harder than he really needs to, exhales leaving him in an increasingly stuttered sort of manner - like a chuckle that never fully manifests.

But what he ends up doing… is just standing there, over the shorter woman in front of him. When he finally speaks, words leave him in a slow, dire sort of pull. "I loathe you with a passion."

He's using his words!

In hindsight, maybe this was ill-advised, but Rene gets points for spunk. He doesn't weigh much, and he's mostly backpacking it- - so he scolds himself on the inside when Zach just keeps shambling. Oh come on.

Rene is there like a shoulder devil, angel, what have you, when he gets to the woman; she gets a blink of blue eyes for her assessments, a slight crease signaling amusement more than a laugh would. He doesn't. Laugh. But he does drop his feet back on the ground, hands gripped in the fabric of the dirty dress shirt. Just in case.

"We can definitely learn something. Putting that out there." Blonde head peeks out at Zach's good side, eyes between them both. Did they get those pesky feelings out yet? "I will still help out if you take a chill pill, you nut." Rene's nicknames again. Always- - usually- - affectionate in their own way.

As Zachery looms over Yi-Min like the profile of some kind of giant, seething bird, there is a calm crook of amusement from her end as well, mostly as she takes in that heartfelt declaration of hatred. It is clear enough from her reaction, or lack of one, that she does not return the favor. Does not care enough to return the favor. "Good to know," she actually says, but as though someone had just told her their least favorite shade of paint.

With her eyes still raised up to the level of his, she tips her head slightly in the direction of Rene again, careless as anything. He is being called.

"Go on, then. You nut.”

With Rene's weight slipping off of him, Zachery almost stumbles sideways for a second, as though only just realising it was on him in the first place. Getting six simple words off of his chest seems to have done him good, and he is breathing a little more steadily again.

Her reaction might not be satisfying, but he can move on now. Wherever his mind is at while he finishes up scrutinising Yi-Min's face, the aforementioned friend's words seem to peel his attention slowly away. Being called a nut by Rene does not seem to strike him as anything new. In fact, when he finally does turn away and lifts a hand to rub at his jaw, he throws Rene a glance that may very well be apologetic in nature.

This… just in time for him to hear Yi-Min's echo of the words. His eyes widen and he tears back around, shirt holding or not, and stalks forward to close as much distance as he can - not to punch, but to grab Yi-Min directly by the throat.

Just when Rene gets some heartened feelings from the maybe-a-little-apologetic look, it all gets turned on its head. His hands are still knotted in shirt fabric when he goes for her.

"Elle va te tuer- -" While it's not swearing, it may as well be. Rene's words turn into a shrill whistle between teeth and lip. His horse is somewhere around here, but Zach will get to Yi-Min before that, as those small hands get jerked from their hold. "Pour l'amour de Dieu- -"

This is not a good day for his nerves.

So, this is how it is to be.

Zachery has the pleasure of feeling his large hands wrapping about Yi-Min's slender throat for but the space of a loaded heartbeat, and he does not have the satisfaction of squeezing further. One slim hand ascends up to her neck in a prim little flow and meets three of his fingers, closing around them and yanking them fully backwards with the brittle, twig-like crunches of bones being bent into absurd arcs. Whatever now remains of his attempt at a hold is broken with a short, shoulder-first twist over to one side, but she does not take this opening to fall away from him even though that would have been the opportune time to do so.

No: this close proximity serves her. A fluid knee follows, into his groin, almost simultaneous with an elbow propelled straight down into the curving hump of his back to facilitate his crumpling.

Her small figure stands over him thus, everything over in the rapid blink of an eye (har), looking down at him with an expression that is more wintry than ever. It is, also, touched with just the overtone of something strange and stark.

Maybe disappointment.

Some day, Zachery might see this as a moment he was taught some very valuable lessons.

But in the moment following the audible breaks beneath the tendons and skin of his fingers, he is too busy hacking out a guttural cry that doesn't even manage to empty his lungs completely before he finds himself in more pain still, reflexively collapsing halfway forward first, and then down onto buckled knees. Finally into the grass, face first, rolling onto his side while tightened muscles fold him smaller than he has been for a long time.

His arms held close, hands twitching as he fights the urge to press hard into wrongly angled digits and does so anyway, he wheezes out the starts and stops of attempted normal breathing. His face is pushed down into the dirt as his eyes, functional and not, press shut. If not for the wincing, the baring of his teeth might make it look like he'd… be laughing if only he could get enough air back into his lungs. As it stands, he doesn't manage enough of a breath either way.

It's a good thing he brought a hearse with him, though, because he's done.

It's probably a good thing that Rene is several steps behind; he'd be getting in the way of this, ah, lesson. He grimaces when Yi-Min wrenches him off and tops it all with a beat down. While he feels they both have issues here… Zach should definitely not have put hands on, because then he deserved it. Rene knew he'd get his ass kicked.

Arrius, having been off grazing, takes a moment more to amble up behind Rene, nose at his hair. You're too late to help get in the way, big guy. His head gets a passive pat before Rene edges up beside the woman, eyes at the same level when he looks to her. The expression on his face is between apologetic and questioning.

"Can we agree this was a clusterfuck… ?" Rene asks, a sigh in his chest when he steps forward to crouch down beside Zachery, saying nothing but resting a hand on the back of his shoulder. He'll probably need a little bit of help sooner than later.

Arms coming up to fold across her chest in a neutral motion, Yi-Min stalks a tiny step or two back so as not to crowd Rene when he moves to lay a hand atop the form of the fallen doctor. It does not seem as though she has an interest in injuring him further now that the 'threat' part of his crazed state has been quelled; rather, she is content to stand off to the side of them, just radiating her aura of very mildly concerned judgment.

"You need help," she directs tranquilly towards Zachery as if this is not currently the most obvious thing in the world, but it is said in a way that suggests she means mental condition much more than physical.

Yes, Rene, this has been a clusterfuck.

The hand on Zachery's shoulder is met with a shudder from the muscles beneath smeared white, though more in reflex than choice. One by one, his body parts seem to find some way to function again.

An attempt to push himself up without using his hands has him dig the side of his face into the ground for leverage first, then elbows, before he finally manages to get his legs shakily back underneath him again. His head stays down, eyes opening but only barely, attention fixed on the mess of his fingers. "'S why…" He manages two words between gritted teeth and pained, uneven breathing but seems to give up immediately after, rising unsteadily to his feet to idly lean into whatever part of Rene is still there to catch part of his weight.

He's all out of arguments. Maybe pain is sobering. "Y— yyyep." And with that, he starts to try and move (poorly) back toward his ride.

Yi-Min can hear a sigh moving through Rene's nose before he glances back to her. He does need help, though perhaps not best to say it out loud right now. Blondie can take it from here.

As the shudder under his hand eases somewhat - and Zach's frame stills - Rene turns his attention back. He is patient enough to let Zach have some of his pride in getting up; only after he gives up speaking the first time does the shorter of the two gets hands on. Luckily he doesn't have to lift much, just act as a crutch. About the right height for it anyway.

"We'll revisit all this. On my terms." Rene pipes up, a little drily. He will still be willing to help with the original reason for being here, which perhaps says a lot about him. But next time, his rules. "I can take you into town for a look at your hand…"

In the midst of watching the one man helping the other up, Yi-Min meets Rene's glance briefly, but there is relatively little that can be read in it.

Soon enough, she will return to where Parable is waiting for her just outside of this area, resuming the original tasks of her day as though this questionable debacle had never happened.

For now, there is a lot that could potentially be parsed through, though she ultimately isn’t sure if she even cares enough to.

In all cases, Rene will have his hands full.

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