Sick and Tired


yi-min_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Sick and Tired
Synopsis An otherwise perfectly reasonable business dealing ends in many iterations of this.
Date April 4, 2019

Dirty Pool Pub

With its scarred and stained concrete floor and mismatched barstools, this is a no-nonsense dive bar and doesn't pretend to be anything but. The only decorating theme seems to be "adhesive," as nearly every square inch of the black-painted walls has been adorned by a sticker, with no particular rhyme or reason.

Along the center wall is the bar itself, long enough to seat perhaps 20 or so patrons. On either side are two pool tables, totaling four. The back wall has a few small tables for those who choose to sit away from the bar itself, but there are no waitresses to bring drinks, so anyone wanting to drink will have to order at the bar before sitting.

The murmur of the early day has begun to bring life to this place, even if emptiness still lingers. Early day for the pub, at least, since it's almost dinnertime for some. A few regulars sit sprawled out at a corner table, clad in black leather jackets and providing the idle hum of absent talks from where they sit, arms over chair backs. Bikers taking a break, their rides parked just outside.

A tall member of this little group stands at the bar, lanky and smelling of the road, and of gasoline, reaching over it to grab an armful of beers to carry it back to his friends with a clanking of filled glass on glass. He brushes the back of another man sitting at the bar, who doesn't particularly seem to mind— or care, that he's jostled a little. He's dressed in slacks and a white dress shirt, seated on a stool, one leg propped up, his face in one hand, one elbow propped onto the bar and another around an empty bottle that's had the label peeled completely off. Where'd it go? Nobody knows.

A leather-clad man of impressive stature mills about in the background to only occasionally peer in from around a corner, though he seems largely occupied with setting up for the rest of the day. With a dull -clrrk- of a speaker, somewhere, coming to life, the sound of rock music floods quietly out into the scene. No doubt to be turned up shortly, its low volume a poor fit.

Yi-Min Yeh is not a woman who considers herself high maintenance, by any stretch of the imagination, but she possesses some standards. The Dirty Pool Pub neatly fails to meet any and all of them. Unimpressed skepticism is thus the mood of the day for her — though with how the ex-Vanguard operative often tends to be, this isn't really much different than her natural resting face anyhow.

So. This is more or less how she has made her entrance into this space, a light-framed and vaguely aloof figure in jeans and a lean, faded tan overcoat that fits her as snugly as a glove due to sheer frequency of wear. It is at least easy to pick out 'the big guy' so aptly described on the face of the very highly legitimate-looking business card she had caught fluttering from a well-traversed street corner in the Sheepshead. That same card is nowhere to be seen on her now, but its contents are as clear in her mind as if burnt into it, giving her a purpose to detach towards as she weaves a path through this abject den of souls.

… Directly to said 'big guy,' who towers over her even from a respectable distance.

This notwithstanding: without any frills, she requests a shot of chlorine.

"Will ya look at that," is the response that request gets, almost immediately, from the man behind the counter. Who makes his way over with the heavy footfalls of a man who could work a master class in how to intimidate people without even trying. His attention is on Yi-Min Yeh, looking her up and down as though he might take special objection to this new meat just walking on in here.

… But at the last moment, his meaty hands land squarely on the counter behind the bar, and he turns his attention to the half curled up man on the bar stool, instead, and grins a wide, stubble-lined grin. "Hey bud! You got one! I'll be damned. Looks like Willy lost a bet."

Said man sitting at the bar is now promptly AWAKE. His hand slides down his face and he blinks blearily around himself, for a moment, before he seems to register what's going on, and looks to the 'big guy' first, and then to Yi-Min directly. One of his eyes is covered by a white patch, presumably with a wound healing underneath, and the other is widened in surprise. He wasn't taking a nap. Nuhuh. "Oh."

A pause. "Oh. Hello!" The man straightens, so quickly it looks like he might hurt himself, and sticks out a hand as he does his best impression of an awake person smiling a very genuine smile. And there is a certain amount of sleepy enthusiasm behind it, for sure. With the corners of his British accent shined up slightly more than they perhaps have been lately, he offers, "Dr. Z, at your service."

And if Yi-Min were anyone who had lead a more mundane life— someone who wasn't, say, such a well-traveled member of Club Genocide— that natural intimidation would have worked several times over, especially in such a state and place. As it is the Taiwanese woman meets the giant of a man's attention easily when it is turned on her; her own gaze contains the composure of a jungle cat judging its prey, tinged with the haziest hints of amusement. It is an aura that manages to be unnerving simply given how dispassionate it is, despite the ridiculous difference in their physical sizes.

But the moment is broken, partially, when the target that she had come seeking is introduced to her. Yi-Min herself is not keen to let it draw on longer, because a staredown with such a man is not worth her time. Her scrutiny settles smoothly over Zachery himself as he rushes to greet her, taking in his — state.

"'Doctor Z.'" Her own accent cuts short the articulation of her syllables, makes her sound at once more terse and more formal. She does not take his hand, civilly straightforward though she sounds. "Have you a place where we can talk privately?"

Yi-Min would certainly fucking hope so, for more than one reason.

With the speed of a man whose handshake has been refused more than once before - and with the head-angling of a man who is almost used to this - Zachery withdraws his offered hand without any indication of feeling slighted.

"I certainly do." The words leave him with GUSTO, and he swivels off of his bar stool, looks to Yi-Min, but then… promptly back over the bar again. His attention settles on the man behind it to say, curtly, almost sweetly, "Bruce?"

Bruce eyes him with his arms folded over his chest, glance cast decidedly downward at this 'Doctor Z.', but he does not answer. "Bruce," Zachery tries again, "in the future, just do as we discussed, yes?" Crisp words, clean. Likely knowing he won't get an answer (he doesn't), he pushes away from the bar and starts in a brisk walk over to the back of the bar, to a black door, surrounded by a black frame set into a black wall. Yi-Min is granted a glance over his shoulder. "This way, please."

He even holds open the door! What a gentleman, stepping back expectantly to make way. Ladies first.

Back room of the Dirty Pool Pub

Entering this space from the pub almost feels like stepping into a different building entirely, though the unapologetically barebones concrete floor remains a throughline. The room is separated from the pub by an extraordinarily thick layer of white drywall, which extends several inches past the doorway, and has the appearance of a smallish doctor's office, if a doctor's office could be very, very tired.

A ceiling light bathes a hard steel and teal operating table in the middle of the room in cold, fluorescent light. It is the newest looking thing in here; Everything else seems to have taken a beating at some point, even if it does look, generally, spotless. A long, grey leather couch stands in the far end of the room, next to a stainless (but not scratchless) countertop with a large, embedded sink. Four white metal cabinets, all of different build and make, stand sandwiching a small fridge that drones a quiet thrum out into the rest of the room. A peace lily stands atop it, surviving but certainly not thriving.

With no windows to open, and only a small vent up over a bathroom door for airflow, the smell in here is overwhelmingly one of bleach and disinfectant.

'Doctor Z' does not need to ask twice, gaining a silent and somewhat sardonically expectant shadow behind his shoulder who deigns to say nothing further until she has passed over the threshold to the makeshift doctor's office beyond. Here, the sense of cold judgment in Yi-Min's expression becomes more transparent yet as she scans the state of every aspect of it that she can see, not remotely bothering to hide the fact that she is doing so: lighting, furniture, fridge.

That sad little plant.

Down to earth: "I am not calling you that again, by the way. Because it is stupid." There, she’s said it."What is your actual name?"

Zachery slips into his office (or what counts for one) as soon as there is space for it, closing the door behind him. The door closes with a delayed hss-click even after he's let go of the handle to slip past Yi-min and further into the room. Which becomes instantly… very quiet indeed.

"Tell you what," Zachery sing-songs, turning back around to face his visitor while leaning back against and onto an armrest of the leather sofa. Even with that one eye, he's still got one hell of an inquisitive stare on him, searching Yi-Min's face for… something. "Trade you one for yours."

He is enjoying this. Though briefly, there is a twitch of his visible eyelid. Something else has his attention, though he seems yet unsure as to… what it is.

It is no less an appraising stare than Yi-Min gives Zachery in return, once she settles herself on a seat of the dilapidated leather sofa and has finished letting her eyes wander. She crosses her legs in an 'at home' fashion, folding her hands delicately over the top of one knee and fixing the one-eyed man with an uncomfortably level sort of contemplation.

It appears that as thorough as her assessment had been and continues to be, she does not find anything to instantly criticize. Perhaps even the opposite: these bare accommodations couldn’t be called impressive, even by someone far more generous than she, but they are something.

"You have done well for yourself, despite being set up in the back of… this," she says with the suggestion of idle leniency, saving the question asked of her. "I cannot imagine that you had an easy time of it. And yes, an introduction is warranted. I am Dr. Yeh."

"Yes, you had that air about you." Of a doctor, one might assume, since Zachery's searching stare is redirected elsewhere almost immediately; it's as though he's solved a puzzle. The satisfaction might as well be dripping off of him as he moves away, sauntering from his guest, to the operating table, then around and toward Yi-Min again on the other side. Still only throwing her a cursory glance before his attention falls back on the teal of the table. And so does his hand, flicking what looks to be a bit of dust off of the stiff material.

"It is a good start, isn't it?" Again, he sounds pleased, but maybe… somewhat more sincere now, even if there's a definite scrutiny in his own gaze as he lets it slide across surfaces. Until it lands back on the freshly introduced Dr. Yeh. "Very pleased to meet you, Dr. Yeh." His mouth opens again, in order to deliver on his promise, perhaps. Or does it.

Maybe the thought of it needs to roll in that head of his a little longer. "I can't say I was expecting nor meaning for you to be the first one to take up the call. Should I be worried?" He doesn't sound it. Still crisp. Still pleasant. Too pleasant.

Yi-Min has dealt with this kind of glib, oily personality before, and she is distinctly less impressed with this than the physical trappings of the room she had only just finished praising. Her dark eyes narrow, become even cooler.

Perhaps not such a good start after all.

"You still have not given me your name."

"I did. You just didn't like it."

For a moment, it almost looks as though he'll leave it at that, smile ebbing away in bits until only a genuine smirk remains. He leans against the operating table, tappataps a finger against it. Then, finally and cheerily, and hopefully not too late for his current audience of one, "Dr. Miller, then. Better?" An indulgence.

… Dr. Z is not an actual name, and Yi-Min is aware that Zachery knows this just as well as she does. Everything that the man does and says is managing to internally rub her the wrong way, which is impressive given her normally somewhat respectable tolerance at dealing with temperaments vastly different than her own.

In better circumstances, it is a matter that she would 'resolve' with uncaring verbal bluntness, but she judges that a slightly more refined approach would be much more useful here — given that otherwise, this trip here would have been a complete waste.

Thus, she allows herself to lean forward as though this is indeed much better, smiling benignly in a wordless exhalation.

It is a finespun effect, approaching exquisiteness in precision from decades of refinement: the very quiet emanation of a gas through the small room that is tasteless, colorless, for all intents invisible to the senses that matter. The most careful of trace amounts, as well; not meant to kill, or to maim.

Merely to teach the subtlest of lessons.

About not wasting time.

"Dr. Miller, I have a proposition for you. Would you hear me out?"

Maybe he'll behave. For a minute. Leaning against that operating table, fingers still idly curling in and out on its top. "That's why you're here, isn't it?"

It's not a comment meant to mock, more of a… confirmation. "You're not bleeding out, so far as I can see, so you must want something else." Zachery's tone of voice loses some of its edge, seemingly in favour of efficiency. "So let's hear it." But he doesn't leave her any time to answer, tacking on immediately after, with an expression that leans more toward puzzlement than anything else— "Are you sick?"

Another soft breath radiating outwards from Yi-Min, measured, effortless.

Regarding him in the entirely leisurely manner that she does now, she certainly does not seem sick.

On the other hand, Zachery begins to feel the infancies of a tiny discomfort in the very pit of his stomach. As though something he might have eaten for lunch didn't agree with him after all, perhaps.

"Nothing of the sort. I find myself in need of some certain supplies that are difficult to come by outside the city. Ones that you seem to have some… proficiency in finding." She unclasps her hands and spreads them, for effect. "I am, of course, willing to pay you for the time and service."

Though he played the very same game on Yi-Min before, the lack of a clear answer to his question causes Zachery's one visible eye to narrow, both eyebrows lowering in focus. He's not going to forget— … uh. Oof.

His lean into the table gains a little more weight, his elbow sinking deeper into however much of it will give.

"This isn't exactly why I set this place up. It's a little like…" He pauses, though not for dramatic effect. Rather, to run his tongue past his molars in idle thought, while looking absently toward the sink on Yi-Min's side of the room. Focus, now. Concern dulls his previously sharp words somewhat. "It's a little like walking into a restaurant and asking them to sell you apples by the hundreds."

To Yi-Min, her response had been formulated quite clearly. But just in case it hadn't been, she is quite happy to clarify for Dr. Miller's sake.

"Luckily, as it turns out, I don't need items by the hundreds. It is not as though I'm aiming to open a general store with them. And in general: they would be small things. Medicine, mainly." Necessarily so, because Yi-Min then has to haul the lot back to the Pine Barrens. "Did I mention that I would be happy to compensate you for the inconvenience?"

Inconvenience is a currency that happens to mean a lot to her, in a home where specific resources have become needlessly rare.

She folds her forearms back into position atop her uppermost crossed leg, now observing Zachery's motions and reactions with a narrower, more interested focus, as though she is a zoologist observing with mildness the changes in a caged animal.

Maybe it's that nausea. Maybe it's just the fact that this isn't the way Zachery wanted his first visit to go. Both of these things are true and both of them are on his face, in their own way.

An audible 'ffh' escapes him as he exhales through his teeth, before his gaze finally darts back to Yi-Min's face. No amusement left, now, his efforts and energy finally routed into somewhat more… practical directions. "You did. But I'm concerned for my own stability. As you alluded to, earlier, I've, ah—"

His jaw tightens at his pause, involuntary, and a hand comes up to press into the stubble along the left side of his face. Maybe he can scrub the feeling of oncoming sick away. Time to try again, pushing away from the operating table to stand freely, shoulders twitching back. "I've done well. And I'll speak plainly— how do I know I can trust you not to risk what I'm trying to build up?"

This conversation is flowing so much more beautifully now. Yi-min nearly smiles to see it. Nearly, not quite.

“A natural question. Yes, as I alluded to earlier, I am building something of my own outside the city. As you can imagine, this makes it somewhat more difficult to make— shopping trips where needed."

In other, even plainer words. "You will have no competition from me. I have no other interest in this place, and our paths will not intersect otherwise." It is a promise, finally spoken with all the complete frankness that Yi-Min would have preferred from the start. Alas that Zachery had felt the need to bring insincere sass into the equation earlier.

A small favor, if it can be called that: Zachery will have to contend with no more of her own gift than what is already present in the room at this moment.

That contention may soon be taking up a full allotment of his time as it is. Laughably mild in the grand scheme of the smallest of higher concentrations would have afflicted, but it is unlikely to be of much comfort to the man to be undergoing a rather long evening of gratuitous vomiting.

This conversation is flowing down the drain. Zachery does not smile to see it. Not even a little.

"You got a list?" His patience is past wearing thin, his weight shifting to reach for one of the white, metal cabinets lining the wall to his side. One hand comes to rest on the cold metal while the other searches his pocket for a key which, when found, is plunged into a circular metal drawer lock. It slides open with a raw noise of metal on metal, creaking in thirst of oil.

Acknowledging this, Yi-Min simply says, "I do," but does not yet move to produce it from where it rests in an inner fold of her overcoat. "We have time to discuss how you wish the arrangements."

In the meantime, she sharpens on Zachery's explicit movements towards the wall cabinet, anticipative from years of instinct more than because she is actively trying to be.

If he does not yet trust her, the feeling is more than mutual.

Meanwhile, Zachery's movements are slow but unceremonious, his fingers searching the drawer's contents by touch as much as his eye allows him to do so through sight. "Alright." He sounds almost bored, now, seemingly unaware of the implications of bringing a whole drawer of new, potentially dangerous elements into a room of two already clashing personalities.

When he finds something all the way in the back of the drawer, he has to leeaaan sideways and forward to stick the lion's share of his arm into the darkness of the cabinet, and shoots Yi-Min a glance from below lowered brow. The mystery is nearly out. This could end badly.

With a sharp jerk, he pulls free a strip of pills, snug in plastic and metallic sheen. Then another, then another, gathering them up in his free hand while he fishes for the last one buried under miscellaneous supplies. "Antibiotics. They're going off in a month according to the date, they'll last at least seven more, if not far beyond that. Take 'em. Leave." The strips are deposited onto the operating table.

"Come back tomorrow, we'll talk money."

With some amount of tense curiosity, Yi-Min surveys that narrow band of pills when this is what the mystery item is revealed to be. The esteemed Dr. Z, as it turns out, is woefully poor at not acting in a highly suspicious manner when it actually matters. Who might have known? Certainly not her.

Given the surprise circumstances, her general misgivings have been loosened by a moderate amount, but she does not waste time in pocketing them before Zachery can change his mind and then replacing them with a neat, singularly folded square of paper. Later, once she has departed, he will discover that this is the list that had been half-promised earlier, drafted in an equally neat hand.

"Yes. We will."

Then Yi-Min coolly and blithely does as she had been bidden, letting that black door sink silently back into its black frame without further words and leaving Zachery only his traitor of a stomach to settle with for future company.

Perhaps their second meeting will go better.

In fact, this is almost a guarantee, though this is not really saying much.

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