The Wind-Up


dumortier_icon.gif ace2_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title The Wind-Up
Synopsis Zachery picks two simultaneously great yet terrible choices to assist him with getting himself together for the upcoming wedding.
Date March 23, 2020

Apolis Tuxedo

Bay Ridge

Brushing his fingers over the silk of a hanging tie, Ace Callahan flips it over in his hand to examine the back, frowning when he finds it's plain black rather than a continuation of the design on the front. That won't do at all. The silk slips from his fingers and returns to join its brethren hanging neatly on the display. Except, a little less neatly than he'd like. He fixes that with a quick adjustment, then turns away.

"This should be a little in and out adventure," he opines in a laid-back drawl. "There's ample selection here. Pick one and run— that ought to do it. Anything here should do in a pinch." It's good he's finally come to that opinion, because he'd been the one nudging them to this location bordering right on the edge of the affluence of Yamagato Park. "Chances are you'll be dressed a sight better than anyone else at this affair— maybe even the groom."

That's a joke. Surely he's joking.

"So, whatever color speaks to you, then…" Ace arches his brow as he turns to look to Zachery. "Unless you'd like to match your date?"

Surely he's been told. Right?

"Or will you need to pick something on-theme?"

Right, Zachery?

On the offchance Dumortier knows more, Ace swivels the look his way, inquisitive expression ticking just a touch more to the side of obvious in the silent airing of his question.

In a minute, maybe.

On the absolute certainty that Dumortier knows more, Zachery turns where he's standing - idly squinting at a mirror just a few displays over - to fix the blond with a look. Less inquisitive, on his part, and more anticipatory of something slightly more exciting than shopping.

Which he's been a bit of a drag about, honestly, even if he was the one to request help from both of his current companions. They seemed like they'd have knowledge from very different sides of the spectrum, alright.

But that was earlier. Now, he's cheerfully shifting his weight to return to browsing, running a hand across sleeves seventeen different shades of black as he chuckles to himself and says, "Matching seems unwise. My date's wearing white, and I most definitely am not." Grin creeping just ever wider, he throws in on a slightly more sincere note, "The red, though… maybe that."

Hair up and jacket over a silver-blue lamé tank, there's a distinctly more fluid aura around the Dumortier, a casual flair topped off with short-heeled boots and black pants. He seems to fit right in with the slick suits and money flowing through the outside of Yamagato Park. Chameleons gotta chameleon.

Rene gives the smallest of snorts in response to Ace's assessments, giving the taller man a side-eye for his commentary and then a more relaxed expression in contrast to Zach's barely covered desire to be done.

"White and red, then?" That's important information; Dumortier slips right up to Zach's side and presses both hands to his arm, gently puuushing towards the further end, away from the blackest blacks. The list of people able to get up in his business is very slim. Scoot-scoot. "Two or three piece? You'd look very dashing in a three."

"I'm not wearing white," is Zachery's answer while he's lifting his arm out of easy reach, but sidestepping all the same anyway. "Prospective prom kings wear white."

He wrinkles his nose, stepping away all together and giving the shop another cursory look around as if he'll just magically suddenly find what he wants. "But they don't wear three piece suits." Does he have a point, there? Unsure.

Potential panic from Ace at the thought of a white suit is staved off by Zachery's good sense. Good man. He rests his hands on his hips, abruptly unsure this is going to be quite as easy as he'd hoped. The casual black blazer he wears is pushed back by his hands in the process, better showcasing the forest-green turtleneck worn under it. "White?" he echoes back belatedly. "Bit of a bold choice for her…"

It's an idle thought, an idle appreciation as he works his way around the side of the display of tuxedo jackets. A three piece suit— now there's an idea.

"Nothing like a good, bloody, maroon cummerbund to jazz up a look," he calls out airily, wandering with all the air of a particularly determined cat. "Pair it with a bowtie of the same shade and you've stolen the whole event." Ace gives both Zachery and Dumortier his back while he peruses the various shades of red available. "Cannot go wrong with black, white, and red…"

"No, not white you dimwit." Dumortier leans back when they stop in the shades between, his response bubbling up with a laugh. "Of course there are three piece tuxes." He waves one hand towards wherever Ace is slinking off to. "See? Vests are nice too."

"Black, white, and red is a classic." Rene lifts his brows up to Zachery, though he seems just a tad dubious. "Not very creative, on the other hand."

"How do you feel about gray?" Dumortier slides a sleeve between his hands to hold up for examination. The one he presents is a steelier gray, and he seems to second guess as soon as he shows it. "Maybe not that one specifically. Charcoal is nice. Stone gray is nice and warm."

"I feel about grey the way I feel about most any colour," Zachery fires back, with much the same thread of uncertainty laced through his voice as there has been the rest of the day, "in that I know it exists on the visible spectrum and that people with functional eyes can perceive it."

He leans off to the other side either way, and peers at the held up sleeve with little in his expression of dubiousness and lingering amusement changing. He's not at home here, this much is clear, but he's persisting, thanks to his helpers. A certain obliviousness present in the room helps too. "A bow tie, Harry? I know I'm from the Queen's country but really?" He actually does sound like he'd like an answer to this, squaring his shoulders as he looks from Dumortier to Ace, but—

Suddenly his mismatched eyes go wide. "Oh! Shit, I, ah- I should have given you these earlier." Reaching into a pocket, he takes out a tiny stack of slightly beat up pieces of cardstock, a complete set of specific, coded shades of white, grey, black and red ranges presented in squares. Swatches! He hands one off to Dumortier, and then holds another out for Ace. "Does this help."

At the side-eye from Zachery, Ace turns back to him to throw some of his own shade as well, a touch of indignance weaving its way into his voice. "It's an event," he balks openly, fixing him with a two-eyed look of consternation the good doctor isn't quite able to fire back at him, even if he tried. He lacks the second pupil for it. "Dress appropriately for it."

The swatch of colors is taken with a twinge in his expression, at once trying to raise his eyebrow and furrow it. The resulting look is befuddled, the card flipped over and then back upright. 'Harry' isn't a simple man. This speaks to a level of dedication beyond mere attendance.

His gaze flashes to Dumortier next, studiously. "Yes," Ace replies, suspicion laden in his voice.

The stupid cockeyed grin that Dumortier gives the production of swatches is toeing the line of 'oh, how cute'. He doesn't say it, but Zach can tell he's thinking it. Rene takes the offered card in stride, checking some of it with the array of fabrics at a glance.

"Yes, very much. It's not just an event," Dumortier raises both brows at Zachery. "It's your wed-ding." Say it with me, doc. The blonde gives Ace the tail end of the expression, sending back a ripple of attitude. They both play the same game, even if neither of them has fessed to it. They did only just meet— there's time for that later.

"See, there we are." A confident huff leaves Rene as he taps a finger to a shade and points it out on the wall. "You'd be best to avoid the jet black. I could make you a red boutonnière, if you like. Not too much, just enough, no?"

A smooth little smile flickers Ace's way. What would this poor man do without them.

Caring out loud for any amount of time longer than a minute is not a thing Zachery is overly used to. It is probably for that reason that even now that the cat is out of the bag, he strolls casually through the store on his own little path to nowhere — except possibly away from Dumortier making faces — like no big reveal has just been thrust into the middle of them.

Plus, if he never looks at either him nor 'Harry', Zachery doesn't have to catch the fucking shade being lobbed his direction through eyes alone. So, off looking toward a collection of cufflinks with his hands clasped oh so devil-may-care behind his back, he answers with barely subdued amusement making its way past a smirk, "It's the bold bride's wedding too. Somehow I don't particularly feel the bow tie wearer is her type."

There, said it with you. In a way.

Ace had been hoping for Dumortier to clue him in, and oh does he provide. A flicker of realization manifests in his eyes following the particularity of the enunciation, and afterward, his eyes narrow at Dumortier.

But that's unfair to him. So right after meeting the shorter man's eyes, he sets his sour glare in Zachery's direction.

Oh, that little…

He can't decide if he's offended or impressed. The conflict certainly staves off any laughter he might have at the idea of Zachery tying himself down like that, or emphatic protests of attempts to convince him out of his wedding. So— at least he's done that. His little method of reveal leaves Ace little room for immediate reproval.

Well done, Zachery.

Ace smirches his tongue off the roof of his mouth with a noisy click. "Well, she is the one knowingly stepping into bed with someone from the Queen's country, as you so aptly put it," he remarks as he takes a step closer, eyeing the collection Zachery considers from over his shoulder. "So you might surprise yourself there."

The troublemaking is a nicely wrapped gift. Apparently there was at least one kitten still in the bag. Still, Rene hides a laugh behind a tiny smirk, tossing 'Harry' a playful glint of eye as he pivots around to stroll on after Zachery.

Dumortier doesn't add anything else, notably.

"It's probably not." Her type. Rene ambles right on past the cufflinks that the two are hawking over, only a glance over his shoulder. "Could always skip the tie, be a little…'less is more'… Or not." On that note, he slides up to the shirts, briefly testing fabrics between his fingers. "Hm. Charcoal or gray, ivory, red buttonhole?" Posed to neither of them in particular, Dumortier angles out the aforementioned ivory shirt to inspect it and the subtle polished sheen.

Calling both Ace and Dumortier today had been a gamble. Two opposites, in many ways, for balance — is what Zachery would say if he were asked. Also two people with opinions, which has made this entertaining.

"It wouldn't be the first time I've blindsided myself, Harry," he replies with a good amount of contentment just lifting his words out of the register of thinly veiled complaint. Dumortier's question draws a sharp inhale from him, and a furrowing of his brow as he looks toward the shirts mentioned.

"You know what," he says suddenly, grimly but decisively, turning around and putting his arms halfway up. "I'm sick of this - everything's blurring together. Sunshine," still looking at Dumortier, patience thin in the way he squares his shoulders, "Harry," turning his eye to Ace, "just put something on me. You've both got enough sense to work together, don't you?" A question born more out of spurring than doubt.

"Once we've got the basics down and the shop can get to work on getting them altered so they can happily extort more money out of me, I'll figure out the… accessories." That last word, of course, cannot and does not leave him without a dismissive wave.

"Miller, I only clean up your messes when I'm paid to do so." Ace replies with an off-the-cuff dismissiveness. Even so, he turns on his heel, glancing down at the swatch to consult it on the colors one last time. With a sigh, he fixes Dumortier with a look out of the corner of his eye. "Charcoal. Keep the greys dark, let the red pop." And off he goes, disgruntled metrosexual that he is in this moment.

"I can't believe you." he finally grouses while he looks over a pair of white dress shirts, deciding between their accents. He scowls at them, and by proxy Zachery. "Your own wedding." is all he deigns to elaborate, scolding and exasperated.

How dare he get married.

Furthermore, how dare he do it unfashionably.

Somehow, the bickering is just what he needed out of this. Dumortier's laugh puffs out with a shake of his head, and he moves silently to where he can pull down one of the slimmer cut, faintly patterned charcoal jackets. He holds it up without commentary for Ace's inspection. Second opinion.

"I can believe him." Only without commentary on the topic of suiting, that is. The rest is fair game. "Everyone needs a nice suit, just accept it." Dumortier arches a brow to Zachery, briefly considering the other man's frame; he's seen plenty enough to know what sizes he should be looking at. The less altering, the better. "Next time I need to decide on something, I'll be sure to invite you so you can be of no help at all."

"Thank you very much," Zachery says, face lifting with a grin, "I do some of my best work when I do nothing."

He watches Ace, attempting and failing to work away a look of smug amusement, before turning it briefly to Dumortier and then taking a few more steps away from them both, already peering toward the shop front and the window and the blessed outside. Apparently, whatever doneness possesses him is paired with enough trust that he doesn't even bother looking at the reason they're here in the first place.

There's something nice about that, maybe. Indicating no one in particular, he asks with a lazy lack of concern, "You were coming, right?"

A question Ace, at the very least, does not bother with answering. He's busy at the moment.

Frowning at the jacket, he inclines his head just a touch. "Yes and no," he offers his opinion. "Good color, not for the coat. Either we go with a vest of that color, or, if white is out entirely, the shirt will do." The bride might cringe, but the play in contrasts could be an interesting piece to explore. Yin and yang, in a way. Is that perhaps what they are to each other?

Oh, he knows nothing of this woman. If he means to curry favor, all he has to go off of is this fucking swatch.

"White, black, and red. Or grey, black, and red. Either way, let the red be the focus of accents. Tie, bowtie—" Ace looks at Dumortier either for guidance, or as a medium. "Whatever this disaster opts for."

"Yes." Dumortier, on the other hand, does answer Zachery— though at the same time he seems to be comparing items to one another and looking over whatever it is that Ace brings out.

"Layer darks? I like that." In the little he's met Nicole— it could go down either way. Rene looks over his shoulder to where Zach seems near ready to crash outside. "Some white, I think…" is what Ace gets when the blonde turns his attention back and brings out a vest. "Red yarrow and sweet pea could be nice for the boutonnière." He lifts his chin to picture it in his mind's eye, angling a look to Ace.

"Roses are a little too opulent, what do you think?" Teamwork(?).

This wedding is going to go perfectly, don't worry about it. This marriage, too. And so is this trip, finally. Zachery doesn't need to look at them to see what they're talking about. Let them work it out. It's fine.

"I know people ascribe meanings to plants," he ends up muttering anyway, peering over his shoulder. "If you're planning on making some sort of joke with your fancy boutonnière…" Pronounced awfully of course, because he has the knowledge required to know exactly what not to lean into.

But rather than finishing his sentence, he turns fully around again, something registering late with a fall of his expression and flattening of his tone. "Wait. Did you just call me a disaster?"

"Are you not?" Now Ace is smiling, mouth quirked into a wry grin as Zachery catches onto his ribbing. "Fear not, I won't sabotage you. All you have to do is just smile and trust." He'll give up talking to him through Dumortier so long as he gets to get under Zachery's skin a little in the process, it'd seem. Can't let the balance of power between them get too skewed.

Can't have that at all.

He moves on to Dumortier with a brief look, cocking his head to the side. "Roses are overdone," he agrees, in his own way. "If the combination gets the bride's approval, go with it. It should match her bouquet arrangement, ideally." There's a small part of him that wants to attach a non? on the end of that, an urge resisted carefully.

The charcoal grey vest is grabbed along with a plain white dress shirt, and both are lobbed underhand at Zachery. "Here," Ace directs with a dry affect. "Try these, and—" He pulls a black tuxedo jacket off a hanger, walking it the rest of the way. He lifts it up. This.

"The tie is for you to pick. Think you can handle that?"

"Hey, only I'm allowed to call him a disaster." A spritely laugh comes from Dumortier when Ace passes the vest from hand to hand, though Zachery gets a wink while the man's back is turned. For Rene, at least, it's playful rather than digging.

"She mentioned a few things so I'll confirm. But definitely a pop of red." Near the dressing rooms Dumortier slips onto the provided seat, "No jokes on the flowers, I promise. Yarrow is protective, medicinal. Sweet peas are usually April's flower. We'll see what she prefers, I suppose?"

"Just… uh, make it your time too, hm?" For what it's worth, no desire to steamroll the doc out of his own wedding day?

There is a struggle indicated in the way Zachery holds himself, suddenly, too still as clothing finds itself in his grasp. Maybe it's the talk of sabotage, or maybe it's just this whole ordeal finally getting the better of him. The wink is caught, and bristled at, as is tradition - and that proves enough to shake him out of his momentary frozen state.

"I can handle a tie," he claims, pieces of the chosen ensemble folded over an arm as he reaches off to the side to snatch a perfectly curled up tie out of a wall display, as if at random. At least it's red.

On his way to the dressing rooms, he mutters, "It'll be fine! I'll have cake, a wife and, at the end of the day, blessed fucking alcohol." He offers Dumortier a thin smile on his way past, rife with the nerves he's keeping from entering his voice as he ducks out of sight, "What more could I wish for!"

"Oh god, a drink." Ace seethes luxuriously. "That's what I need after this."

He sighs after that, slipping his hands into his pockets. Stepping back from the path of the groom-to-be, he looks fondly and distantly in the direction of the ceiling, scheming what drink will quench away the melodrama of impromptu wedding planning. "Hurry up in there, and we might even have time for two rounds before I'll need to head off to work." With a jaunty lift to his voice, he adds an additional lure of: "My treat."

Thin smile is just given back the usual confident one, the blonde apparently content to wait for the first round of picks on him. One small step, et al.

"I don't have to work." Dumortier does Harry one better, and the other man gets the smallest of grins befitting an imp. "The faster we finish, sooner it's over, et cetera. You're not leaving 'til I'm sure you don't look like a boob."

Just saying. What are friends for?

"Might I suggest bringing the drinks in here, in that event?" Zachery's voice rings from just out of sight, between the rustle of clothes being shaken out and set aside. "Two rounds, he says. So about five minutes, or…? I'm a month and a half into sobriety, Harry, I might put them away faster."

Almost inaudibly, he adds in a mumble to himself, "Where does this button go? How's it there? What absolute idiot made th-" click "-Oh, there we go, that's clever."

Zachery will just have to imagine what Ace's face looks like at hearing about his sobriety, even though it is a very near thing that he does not simply phase his head through the curtain to apply his stare directly.

"Oh my god," he airs, all pretense of respecting Zachery's life choices thrown out the window. "Are you shitting me? Does she not drink? Is she making you not drink?"

He's quite offended and defensive on his behalf.

"You should see this face he's making, Handsome, it's very touching." So concerned. Dumorter is significantly less surprised at this news; or at least he doesn't show it. He does turn his head to give a look of consternation towards the dressing room door.

"Do you need help in there?" Rene is near enough to hear the struggle if not the muttering.

"I'm fine!" Zachery answers without pause, with annoyance pulling his voice down. But as he considers his answer, it makes way for amusement again all too easily.

"So funny story, actually," he starts, his voice a little clearer and brighter with every word that leaves him, "So I knew Nicole - you know, the bride - was pregnant, but I panicked and instead of telling her, I did the next logical thing and did a lot of fucking drugs at once and drank myself half to death in an attempt to rid the house of it all and then accidentally, through the conversation that followed, tricked her and myself into the situation I find myself now."

There's a pause, some shuffling. "Which is to say, regretting being an idiot fish in an idiot desert of my own making."

And with that, he steps out, as done up as this rushed period of time has allowed him. Hands still straightening a somehow chaos-blessed, perfect shade of red tie before he throws his arms out wide. "So this is perfect, yeah?" He looks from Ace to Dumortier, then back again, then one more time to the latter for good measure. "We can go? It's nice, come on."


"It's your funeral," Ace opines wryly, before stepping forward to afford Zachery the detail of a closer look. That's the end of his ribbing for now, though, taking hold of one of those arms thrown out by the frazzled groom's sides. He catches him by the wrist, then turns his grasp over around it to properly fasten the cuff together and see if he still likes the lay of it. Then with a brush of the back of his hand over Zachery's shoulder, he doesn't quite frown, but gives him a critical once-over before stepping back again.

"I don't know, Sunshine. What do you think?"

The story of sobriety is a rollercoaster. Dumortier's brows rise for all of it until Zach steps on out in his untailored glory. Politely, the small blonde waits until the third of them does his assessing; there's an obscure look to Ace at his nickname, hard to tell what he feels about someone else using it.

Dumortier slides to his feet and moves right in to take Zachery by his lapels and straighten them out; the next tug is to gauge the fit at his waist. Corralled under the guise of sizing, "So, I guess that means no more us-time in the woods, huh?"

Predictably, he doesn't leave time for Zach to swat him away, stepping back and giving Callahan the side-eye. "I think it's as good as it'll get, Harry. Besides." A hand waves dismissively, paired with a low laugh; "If he spends any more time here he might strangle himself with a belt."

Zachery's arm stiffens at the touch, before the rigidity spreads to his shoulders, neck and jaw with the fixing and further interference from Ace. The arm is pulled closer to himself the moment it's left alone again, hand balled into a loose fist.

He wills most of the visible tension away with a sharp exhale and a sharper look angled upward - hopefully it can remain a thing unmentioned for the sake of getting out of here a little more quickly.

But then there's Dumortier. His adjustments and prodding earn him a much more direct look of judgement and of obvious, (im)patient suffering, real and acrylic eye half lidded as Zachery humourlessly stares down.

Questionable decisions in the woods will commence, in all likelihood. But that's an issue best discussed at a different time. "That's sorted, then," he decides, of the right here and now, already moving to duck back into the dressing room. "Save some of your gawking for the event itself."

Ace relents. Mostly. He lets out a quiet huff of amusement looking between Dumortier and Zachery both for their various quirks in attitude, then looks to the shop attendant who in turn lifts his head in a gesture to show the group has his attention now.

"Let the nice man fleece you for money over alterations, and you're golden," Ace says as he turns back, hands sliding into his pockets again. "Better now than— well, having to come back and do the pony show all over, right?"

Was that sympathy? It sounds like sympathy. Or a very good impression of it.

His chin lifts in a gesture to Zachery as the attendant draws near. "Yes, I think we're about done here, if you'd be so kind as to…"

At least the area around the shop had restaurants— specifically, a bar— nearby. Once the last of the nasty business of the fitting is done, Dumortier leads the charge; beelines for the nearest bar, fully cognizant of Zachery's supposed sobriety. Hey, mister groom can have a soda pop if he's desperate to stay on the wagon. After the Suit Debacle he needs one, though.

"Never been here, so don't get us kicked out." It's a tease, blatantly, from Rene as he elbows open the front door. It's a nice place, not at all a dive, but nice in a middle-class way; an acceptable place for locals and Yamagato Park employees to be able to mingle on the border, outside of the park.

"Feeling any less stir-crazy now? I'm guessing that's a probably not."

"It comes in waves," Zachery answers, sauntering in after Dumortier but quickly making his way past him and further into the establishment, turning around to walk backwards as he says, cheerfully, "Much like the sea! Which, it just so turns out, is the amount of alcohol I'm about to consume."

So much for the soda pop.

Suddenly he doesn't look so tired anymore, sluggishness replaced by an eager impatience that has him nearly tripping over a chair. Fortunately, he catches himself, and after throwing an accusatory glare at the chair's back, he looks back up to announce, "And Harry? You're staying with us."

"Oh, I wouldn't dream of missing the opportunity to see you get drunk instead of discovering you already half-slumped over a bar," Ace drolls, a well-meaning smirk plastered over him. "That's just good sense, at this point." He lifts a hand to signal to the bartender they'll need to be seen immediately, looking back to Dumortier rather than Zachery to tell him, "And this first round's on me."

"Despite," and now this lighthearted venom can only be directed back at Zachery. "Your foul hijinx earlier. Really, were you going to let me dress you like it wasn't for your own wedding?"

"You make watching sound fun. It is." Dumortier lets the pair go on ahead of him, watchful. The courtesy of a first-round earns Ace the tip of an invisible hat. Thank you. "Of course he was. Unless it was the plan to lure you out first." In which case, a fine master plan, as it clearly worked.

Until now there wasn't much time for being more social; Zachery and his mission came first, at least for Rene. As the three of them round on the bar proper, the blonde tilts his head up to the angular features of Ace Callahan. He didn't miss the royal 'us' out of Miller, which gives him less pause.

"Sooo, how'd you two meet~?" Said sweetly, with a matching smile, doing his best at cooing over it. What? He wants to know.

Zachery proceeds toward the completely unfamiliar bar like it's home, settling onto a stool immediately and twisting sideways with a much more easy grin than any expression he's had on for the last few hours. The venom only serves to feed the flames, a small bit of pride twisting him into sitting slightly taller.

"Nicole and I, or Harry and I?" The Master Planner asks casually, as if it needs to be asked. "Because both involved some amount of lacerations but only one of them resulted in a shag on the medical equipment."

Only once he catches a polite glance for a choice in drinks does he go still again, looking for a moment like he might have bruised his shiny new good mood until the grin just flares wider. "Shit, where do I start. It's been a while since I was anywhere I didn't suspect the dish water made it back into the bottles."

At the question regarding their shared past, 'Harry' grows a little more introspective, the green-grey of his eyes sharpening to a glint. The story Zachery provides, the light it paints seems to satisfy him enough that he actually smiles, turning that gaze on Dumortier. "I'll give you a hint— I'm not really the sleeping around sort."

The topic of what to drink is significantly easier to slide into. "Hell, let's start easy. Something on tap. I think this place ought to have a proper beer on hand, something with proper taste." Ace cants his head, asiding woefully, "This IPA craze sweeping all these microbreweries popping up really is just unimaginative, if you ask me."

No one did, but he'll happily offer up an opinion anyway.

"A Guiness for me and the Brit. And for you, Sunshine?" He lilts his head slightly in Dumortier's direction as he comes to stand behind his seat at the bar.

Both stories work, and he certainly gets the answer to the pair of them as well. The bout of laughter is unspecified— it could have been any of it. Maybe all of it.

"I had the feeling." Dumortier asides to Harry's hinting, a wave of his hand with it. "Too bad." Just for a bit of sauce. He hops lightly onto the stool to Zach's right, passing him a crooked grin, and it is unwavering when it goes to Ace. "And for Sunshine too."

"Everyone starts somewhere. Fucking upstarts in this 10,000 year old industry." Rene still carries a slight laugh in his words, an infectious lilt. "I should go into supply for it, honestly. Hemp's easy." The blonde knocks his boot playfully against Miller's calf, because of course he already knows this. Hemp's easy.

Zachery's uncharacteristically good mood continues, weathering Dumortier's jabs and his own slightly backfiring answer. Maybe it's the promise of the premises. The hemp comment gets a knowing grin, but his attention stays on the incoming drinks. The first one will be his and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

"Someone tried to stab me to death," he says casually, with the grin still lingering, eye squarely on the drinks being fetched. "Inch or two to the left and they might've succeeded. I sat there like a fool and let it happen until this walking, talking BMW stepped in." Very much not intended to be a compliment, if his smirk is anything to go by. There's some questions to be answered about that, eventually.

But not now - because a glass has been filled and immediately he raises his hand to claim it. Once handed over, it's lifted to his mouth and not taken back down until over half of it's gone down his throat. And then, after a breath, it just goes right back up.

"Easy," the walking, talking BMW advises sharply, its automated driver assist system firing perhaps a bit belatedly as far as Ace is concerned. "You rush your way through this without taking time to enjoy it, I won't just leave you here— I'll drag you back to your fianceé."

He knew Zachery had to have some kind of drinking problem, but this was touching an unenjoyable type of extreme. The man was breathing down the drink like it otherwise might be stolen from him. Though, with the attitude he employs toward the drink, maybe it should be.

Ace continues to frown, eyes not leaving Zachery in case he needs to physically intervene. "Don't shotgun a good beer like it's a frat party and you're drinking Natty Light. Christ's sake, Miller." A sigh never follows. A sigh would imply the conflict is over. Instead, he keeps waiting.

Though he tests the waters of moving on by speaking around Zachery, leaning an elbow onto the bar to look at both him and Dumortier. "People have been drinking for thousands of years and aren't like to stop soon. If you have land and can get in cheaply… not to mention establish contacts for sale…"

Ace does Dumortier's admonishing for him, which serves to get a small laugh. "Well thanks for swooping in." That much is honest when Rene tips his face towards Callahan. "I've done it too, welcome to the club." Swooping in. Pulling Zach out by the ankle and hoping for the best.

"Oh, I've got all of that. Just a matter of desire." Which, Rene doesn't seem to desire much of it. What he does desire is the drink slid in front of him, and apparently— a toothpick. He rolls it out of sight into his palm, and when he flicks it down the bartop, it's less of a pick and more of a gnarled splinter.

Zachery sends the walking, talking, and now protesting BMW a smirk from over his glass, before it comes down on the bar again, empty, and he thumbs the foam away from the corners of his mouth. Better. "You're a bunch of lifesavers."

The glass is held out for seconds without him even looking, and begrudgingly accepted, all while the groom-to-be continues to stare Ace directly in the face.

"He really is all business, isn't he, Sunshine," he finally asks, leaning toward Dumortier but without breaking eye contact. His grin widens. "You know, maybe I should invite him to the wedding. I feel like he'd have a secretary that's pretty good with gifts, don't you?"

Meanwhile, Ace doesn't even touch his own wide-mouthed imperial stout glass. Perhaps in protest. He snatches away the emptied one with a flick of his wrist, expression dour.

"Pint-size that refill, would you?" Ace insists with a side-eyed glare at the bartender. He's well aware of Zachery's eye on him, unmeeting his look for an unwillingness to engage in his what are you going to do about it dare attitude he seems to be taking regarding the matter.

What he will do is re-establish control, thank you.

"All work and no play makes Harry a dull boy," he drolls, finally reaching for his own glass. "I just prefer to remember my escapades. And for any breaking of promises I do to go unnoticed when I circle back to base." It's now that Ace flashes a look to Dumortier in particular, flinty and knowing. Something silent passes in it before he finally drinks from his own glass, looking off again. "If you're going to keep this marriage of yours intact, you'd best start practicing, Miller."

He shifts his eyes back to Zachery with a small smile. "Besides, when measuring how long one stays by how many drinks they've had, a little moderation goes a long way, don't you think?"

All business indeed. Between Dumortier and Miller, there's a definite aura of shared troublemaking. Mention of secretaries just gets an affirming noise while the blonde nurses his drink, brows up. The expression sticks around, especially when he gets that look.

Flint, given his way, passes right on through the curtain and out the back like a magician's trick. Rene is unbothered, patting Zach on the shoulder companionably. "He's not wrong about the moderation. In this case. This isn't one of your drug-fueled benders, though, so it could be worse. You could lose everything from the last three days like that one time—"

"But I won't let you." Got your back, Handsome. Teamwork.

Zachery watches the glass get claimed with an idle roll of his jaw and a rap of fingertips against the bar before he pulls his hands into his lap. "I'll be fiiine," He insists cheerily, finding his grin again. "Didn't you hear?" He sweeps an arm out to his side. "He won't let me."

It looks, for a moment, like he's going to follow that up with something witty - at least before he swallows back some discomfort because of some very extremely recent life choices, brow knitting and a hand laid lightly over his stomach when he somewhat abruptly turns to Dumortier.

"So. I would—" He pauses, then leans ever so slightly forward and says in a stage-whisper, "I would just like to say I appreciate your whole sort of… candor situation but also he didn't know about the drugs, so that's…"

If he's worried about anything Ace has warned him about, it certainly doesn't let itself be heard in the somehow delighted and chuckled out words that follow. "That's fantastic, thank you."

Thank you indeed, Dumortier. Both for your illumination and your chivalry in looking out for your fellow man.

Ace side-eyes the American-sized pint the bartender slides in Zachery's direction before he steps back. The suited man swallows his own drink, glass still held even if he waits to see if chaos unfolds again after all. This time, though, it won't be his hands to intervene. Sunshine has offered to step in, so Ace will see just how he opts to do so.

"No no," he assures with a certain sense of bravado. "I appreciate knowing who to go to if I ever decide to take the plunge and enjoy a dose of Refrain." If he notices the look the bartender abruptly gives him at the mention of the drug specific to SLC-E individuals, Ace opts not to react to it.

Instead, he preens, straightening and cocking his head. "So, what are the after-wedding plans?" he asks, perfectly cordial. "Vacationing somewhere exceptional for the honeymoon?"

"Oopsie." Rene sing-songs, eyebrows arching while he occupies himself with a sip.

"Ohh, don't touch that shit. There are some things you just …don't. I can tell you that much." At first it sounds like a typical Dumortier cadence, yet at the end it carries a very serious punctuation. "I stick to things that don't require a laboratory." Back to his usual tone, light and free. His grimace at the end makes it so much less, well, grim.

Ace's moving on is more than welcome, and the blonde shows it when he hooks a hand onto Zach's nearer shoulder and leeeans over. "I bet a nice weekend cabin upstate is right out, hm?"

Zachery does some pretty questionable things, but even he scoffs a chuckle out at the mention of Refrain, finding no truth in it to defend himself over.

The hand at his shoulder is leaned sharply away from, but he stays in his seat and within reach nonetheless — shifting to center himself back toward his new drink, and to spider his hand over the top of it, fingers set carefully around the rim. Small, pathetic glass. "We're doing something later, what with the pregnancy and… both of us quite busy figuring out work and…"

His grin ebs further away, lines on his brow drawn a little deeper as if he's only just realising how long it's truly going to be. His fingers leave the glass to wave the subject away. "Maybe in a year or so." He concludes, keeping a measured tone of forced pleasantry that does not match his expression. "We'll do an anniversary and honeymoon double feature."

A startle of noise comes from Ace, drink nearly going up his noise. He chokes his sip back, glad he'd not been draining the glass with any particular verve to it. "Right," he coughs out, rueful and woeful. "Pregnancy." He'd nearly forgotten, with how cleanly Zachery had stitched that topic into the larger conversation earlier about the wedding and the circumstances surrounding it.

He tries to decide what else to say, attempting to find something positive. If not positive, then neutral.

With a smile a little too wry to be classed as sad, he lifts his glass again, holding it in cheers. "Mazel tov."

And for once, he keeps the rest of the snark to himself, though the silence in the absence of it speaks just as loudly.

"I hear Italy's still friendly." Rene muffles behind his drink. "Madagascar's got all that swagger going on. I'm sure you'll come up with something. You've got time. And babysitters, if the amount of flowers she wants is any indication." He reaches out to pat Zach on the shoulder, tweaking a grin over at Ace. Mazel tov indeed. "Maybe I'll meet someone at the reception." Weddings are great for that, alright?

All throughout the sputter at his side, Zachery holds still. Not unaffected, just weathering the response while a grin slowly makes its way back onto his face. "Or you could just snatch up Harry," he comments lightly, turning to Dumortier and lazily throwing a thumb over his shoulder. "He's right here."

Then, after a beat, he tacks on with amusement doubling, "Wait. Is this why you wind people up? Is this what I'm like?"

The last remnants of that sputter turn into a laugh, at least. He's not sure if Zachery is asking him or Dumortier, but does it matter at this point? "No, no," he responds to the initial needling. "It's all about timing, and pretense. One-night stands at a wedding are much different."

Drinking long again from his glass, he wonders to the latter point, "It's fun, so long as you read cues and stop at just the right point. Draw discomfort, not ire, and all."

It's more of a him thing to say than a Harry thing, but that line's always been a little blurred regarding Zachery in particular.

"It's a fun little game, at times," Ace sighs.

Dumortier's answer to Zachery's tacking on is a gesture of his hand, fingers held just a wee bit apart. A little.

"I'm down but I don't think he is." Rene gestures again, this time with his drink in Ace's direction, a brow raised at Miller. "He's right though. Can't dive into anything without a little foreplay." A less subtle way of referring to timing and cues and whatever else— added with a half-cocked smile. "And he's right about weddings too. Winding someone up is always half the fun."

"And I promise I won't sleep with any of your new in-laws." Just in case, Rene even puts his hand over his heart, eyes big and sincere. "Not on purpose."

Zachery drags his drink close again, letting out a deliberately long sigh. But - and maybe it's the alcohol or the fact that he might actually be looking forward to something for once - the look he offers from one side to the other is not without sincerity widening his grin.

"Alright," he cuts in, apparently choosing not to engage that last subject too closely. "Christ. To think you two are the people I chose to surround myself with."

He lifts his drink only just off the bar. "To beggars, then, maybe."

Ace lets out a bark of a laugh, lifting his glass anyway. "Hell of a toast." he remarks over the top of his drink.

Then again, they're a hell of a trio.

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