yi-min_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Transparency
Synopsis Yi-Min and Zachery go for a walk, and find middle ground. Of sorts.
Date May 25, 2019

Ferrymen's Bay - Marine Park

The text delivered to Zachery's phone a few days ago had been simple and innocuous enough, though possibly unexpected as an invitation given who the sender is. Join me for a walk this weekend, if you feel up to it. Following this, a succinct designation of time and place.

The time: morning.

The place: what had formerly been known as Marine Park, in what had formerly been known as Jamaica Bay.

There is no further context given to the message, but if there were a more serious intended purpose to the meeting, Yi-Min would probably have come right out and said it.

As for the destination, what was once the largest park in Brooklyn is to a significant degree much the same as it had always been, even in its pre-war days: a generous oasis of greenery snuggled into the midst of the neighborhood sharing its name and the once-bustling thoroughfare skirting it to the south. A place of quiet natural beauty— of a feeling of rest on the outskirts of a teeming city.

This may just be the quality that had drawn Yi-Min here. That has kept drawing her back here, whenever the time and freedom for indulgence presents itself.

In the present era, the suggestion of isolated wilderness creeping from within is even more pronounced; all remaining pretense of human intervention is long gone from the location, and due to this absence, it is thriving more vibrantly than it ever had before. The blanket of short, spiky shrubbery forming the profile of the coastal marshlands has snaked outwards in all directions from its source, transforming much of the once-tame vegetation cover of the neighboring recreational sections of the park. Many of the public buildings, including (perhaps ironically) the Salt Marsh Nature Center lay in vacant ruins, and the once well-trodden snarl of paths forking through the area are similarly overgrown. There are many types of wildlife— prominently birds— audible in the deep background, creating a peaceful but persistent weave of noise ranging from the dainty chirring of grasshopper sparrows to the much rarer, rougher barks of herons.

Though there is nobody else around her at present, Yi-Min is situated in a spot which is not hard to see from any of the entry points into the area. Early morning sunlight causes her contour to be easily visible from where she is seated on one side of a single, dilapidated bench facing the flat shorelines of Gerritsen Creek. Her gaze rests on the middle distance, lightly drawn to the way the sun casts an intricate, ever-rippling lattice of light across the deep-blue stretches of water. It does not seem from her stance as though she is waiting for another, and perhaps she is not.

These are moments she is happy to simply capture meditatively as they pass, whether they are shared or not.

Moments end to make room for new ones, much as the water doesn't stop moving just because someone is watching. The chance to meditatively do anything seems to shrink dramatically with the footfalls that announce the presence of another person entering the park behind Yi-Min. Someone who does not feel the need to wander on his way to his destination, and whose steps become increasingly louder before a blue-splinted hand is leveled awkwardly onto the bench's back.

"Hi." The word leaves Zachery hoarsely as if - despite its brevity - it clings on for dear life on its way out. After a cursory look at Yi-Min, his gaze lifts to look out over the creek, though any of the potential beauty seems to escape him as his eye searches the water for something that maybe isn't there. "You ordered a doctor, doctor?"

He is, perhaps notably, not wearing a dress shirt - hold your gasps. After a tired scrub at stubbled jaw, his good hand slips back into the pocket of a grey hoodie.

Of course, if Yi-Min's only intention had been to continue sitting here placidly looking out into the waters without disruption, she wouldn't have invited anyone else out here— and certainly not Zachery Miller, of anyone she could have chosen.

But she had.

Thus, Zachery's arrival is not received as an interruption, but as the welcome occurrence that it is.

"I did, doctor." There is, amidst the faint, easy knowingness of the look she wears, a slight note of surprise that he had bothered to turn up at all. Still, she doesn't turn to face Zachery right away, even as she becomes aware of the hand that curls around the top of the bench beside her head. "This is a beautiful spot. I find it calming to come here occasionally, when I am able. It may do you some good as well."

Only then do her eyes flick up and to the side, where Zachery is standing perched behind her. "How have you been doing? How goes the writing on the wall?" From their last encounter, he knows perfectly well that she isn't speaking metaphorically. And yet, the inquiry isn’t meant to be unkind.

No noise leaves Zachery in response to the nature of the spot, nor on what it may do for him. There's a pull at his lips that comes dangerously close to a sneer, if only he could be bothered to put enough energy into it to make it so.

The question that follows elicits a bigger reaction - first in a scoff, then in a… somewhat unplanned sounding laugh that bleeds over into a chuckle. Wellp. Not his favourite subject, clearly, and he pulls away from the bench's back to clamp his hand over the side of his neck. Tightly.

"Not too badly," he forces himself to say, through gritted teeth and pained grin. Though after his had leaves his face, he seems to relax somewhat. "Genuinely. Weirdly. Especially considering the last time I saw you I was in the midst of drinking myself into a stupor." A beat's pause, and then, "Speaking of. I hope I waited until after you were gone to fall asleep face down on the concrete floor. Which, and I cannot stress this enough, I cannot recommend. Especially in a state of half undress."

"Not too badly? That's a good thing, then." An agreeable sort of question continues to make itself heard in the uplift of Yi-Min's tone. Over the accumulating spirit of their conversations, she is learning what to come to expect from him; that there is a conspicuous gap of a reaction from him on the issue of enjoying the scenery is not something that bothers her at all.

At least one of them will be today.

"I don't know, you seemed pretty comfortable to me," she also remarks with a small, lilting shrug. "In— what was it? Your Harlem Soup Kitchen shirt. And you passed out on top of the couch, at least, instead of on the concrete." The smile now lightening her face would be almost be a teasing one if they were better friends, but in this case, it is rather too mild for that. "So far as I'm concerned, you ended that night with a success."

"Oh, that shirt," Zachery replies, pleasantly reminiscing and regretful both, somehow. "… It's very comfortable. I'd offer to get you one but they only gave it out to good people. Plus, Harlem is… well." 'Changed', a vague gesture and a lowered tone seems to imply.

His hand comes down from his neck so as to be stuffed back into his hoodie while he takes a step back and impatiently kicks a heel out at the ground, slumping over afterward to look down at the freshly upturned bit of dirt. "I've got… so many questions, but this one first: are you going to continue sitting here like an old widow, or shall we move?"

"A war blasted shithole?" Yi-Min fills in for him, a little too promptly.

For how Yi-Min typically refrains from swearing, she does seem to greatly favor that one word in particular.

A loose air of amusement drifts across her expression at the complaint directed towards her, and she rises gracefully to her feet after letting her gaze linger on the glow-touched waters for a scant few moments more, as though making sure to savor the last possible seconds of the view.

"I daresay I do as well, but we shall start with yours. Come. The trail is this way." What is left of the neighboring trail, at least, but who needs specifics? So saying, she leaves the lonely figure of the bench behind her almost without waiting for him to follow, stepping briskly away from the ubiquitous clusters of reeds dominating the creekfront and towards the drier if equally-wild terrain spreading further inland— her gait in all ways quite unlike that of an old widow.

Only when Yi-Min has moved a little further up ahead, does Zachery look toward the water once more. A twitch pulls at a corner of his mouth, head still low over the curve of his hunched back. Mh. He's not expecting her to wait. Quite the opposite.

After a few more seconds' rest, he takes a deep breath, pushes himself up straight, and begins to catch up in confident strides. "Why don't we take turns!" He suggests, rather than asks, "You know, give and take. I'm feeling generous."

Yi-Min's intent isn't to leave Zachery behind, however. Otherwise what would be the point? Thus, she doesn't let herself get too far ahead, slowing a fraction and letting him catch up before she has eclipsed his pace by too great a margin— though she does stay just ahead of him at this juncture, her eyes on the path ahead.

Ahead of them both, what appears to be the remains of a trailhead draws near: two old timber posts, shattered at different heights, between which a sign had presumably once been affixed. Once upon a time, the dusty road fanning out in front of them had been both carefully maintained and well-trodden, but nowadays it is neither. Care will have to be taken to avoid the thick assemblages of mugwort and other invasive species that have carved dense, erratic swathes out of the dimensions of the visible trail, which Yi-Min does with ease; it is not too difficult if one is paying attention.

"You and your clinic. I had always wondered why you began it in the first place. It cannot make you much in the way of money."

There's an immediate scoff behind her, in response. "It doesn't. I never thought it would." Zachery's voice dips into something a little more focused as he tries to anticipate what's ahead, having apparently not thought this whole walk through until this very moment. Where Yi-Min might move through with more grace, he's too unwilling to compromise on what he should be going around, taking big steps over instead. Pfh, take that, PLANTS. Not the boss of Zachery.

Downward rather than up, he continues, "It was a… romanticized idea, something of a… a way to try and find some purpose, I suppose. And I thought it might be interesting. Which it still is, but only in the way that the occasional bum swinging by to ask if they've got chlamydia is interesting." Which, if his tone is anything to go by, is at the very least dryly amusing, if a little exhausting. Leaving no room for a reply, he quickly tacks on with a little more energy behind it, "Your turn. How much did you see of what was on that wall, when you came over?"

What a romanticized idea it is, as well.

"You're really not the disingenuous asshole you like to act like you are, are you?" Yi-Min not only notes this very casually, but doesn't turn around to do so, although she does slow to consider what he had said for just a moment. In that stretched-out breath, she can hear Zachery taking a particularly large stomp over the jumble of plants she had only just trodden through much more judiciously. She appears to be unperturbed by either of these events. "No. Perhaps you are, still. Even so, it is clear that you are much more than this." Much of this may be banter, but it is also truly meant.

The reflective look that she adopts is not quite possible for Zach to see, given that her back is to him, but it does change the timbre of her voice slightly. She sounds pleased, but more in a way that is marginally impressed, rather than malicious.

"I saw all of what was on your wall, or near enough. You're not much of a goalkeeper when you're drunk."

There is no argument from Zachery on Yi-Min's speculations regarding his personality, despite a dismissive noise of a breath as he moves forward. His steps come down even heavier now, after the last answer given. It was not the answer he was hoping for, even if it may have been expected.

"Well, that's fine." He says, like it's not, in fact, fine. "I'm fixing it all, anyway. Therapy, job, the works. It's going to be fantastic. I'm going to be a perfectly functional human man soon, you won't even recognise me. I'll be going around drinking water, wearing hats, asking people how they're doing and actually listening, telling them to have a nice day and how about that weather, though. Or the sports." There's an upward climb to his tone, both in pitch and in speed.

Until it drops abruptly to something much more drab, much more him again, for the next two words. "Your turn."

That dismissive little huff falls on uncaring ears. "It is an admirable goal, you know," Yi-Min continues contemplatively, seemingly completely ignoring the injunction for now. "I don't think I’ve told you, but my laboratory was founded on a somewhat similar idea. It is not something you ever had to start in the first place, yes? Or continue to do. And yet, you do." And likely not, if she had to put money on it, because of anything to do with the chlamydia. It is a strange but perfectly woven combination of practicality and a desire for beneficent action that she knows well, in her own way.

"I hope it all turns out well for you," she adds next, with as much frankness as might be expected from her: sincerity comes from her with exactly the same straightforwardness as barbs. There is no judgment folded into that simple statement. "You have determination and a useful gift both. I have no doubt that you will figure things out."

Then, at last, the answering question that he had asked for.

"Do you intend to keep the clinic open, with your new job?"

There is, maybe a good reason for Zachery to be trailing behind. Though he throws the occasional glance up to try and catch a hint of this or that, he mostly keeps his gaze averted. Down.

Struggling not to argue with the comments that are coming his way from up ahead, threading his shoe under a tangle of thin aerial roots to pull it up and out of the dirt with his next step. Rrrriptear.

"I imagine I'll have to close it down, eventually. Transparency, and all that." The words are dragged from him like a horse into a cart it doesn't want to be rope-pulled into. But his next words come a little easier. "I suspect it will evolve into something else. With time. Not in the back of a pub, likely. Hell, maybe I'll swing a nice cafe, this time." Probably a joke, even if the humour's only just in his voice. "My turn." His voice lowers, as he pulls sideways to round a patch of particularly prickly plants. "What's wrong with you?"

Now he looks up for a longer time, advancing just enough to catch a peek of the side of Yi-Min's face.

"Unfortunate. Whatever you do, whatever it becomes, I hope you do not give up on it entirely." It is equal parts advice and a straightforward sentiment. In contrast to the forced-sounding nature of Zachery's words, Yi-Min's flow from her as easily as the intermittently glittering waves they had left behind them.

Then the dip in Zachery's tone, followed by the noticeable glance he levels towards her after that long, unbroken period of being directed towards the ground, is enough to catch Yi-Min's attention. A tiny bit more of it at least; at present, she seems to be more focused on enjoying the salt-laden breeze currently immersing them both than any singular action he is taking.

What he's clearly able to see is a blink that lasts a frame longer than usual— but the quality it is bounded by is amusement and not hesitation. "Please, elaborate," she says with a bright laugh somewhere behind her eyes, which manifests partially in her voice as well. "There are no doubt many things wrong with me, if one gets creative. You will have to get a little more specific."

"This." With an unintended skip and a quickening of his pace forward - a little clumsily across some plants and wayward rocks - Zachery closes some of the distance between him and Yi-Min in order to walk next to her. "Why invite me here." His words leave him like they're not forming a question, like she knows already and he's just echoing in order to indulge. Nevertheless, there's something pressing about his tone.

"Why… - why drop by, after you knew I'd be no use to you. After I'd attacked you. After the -" he pauses, seemingly not out of choice but out of his breath catching as his eye continues to search Yi-Min's face. When he continues, his tone of voice seems caught squarely between laughter and frantic confusion, even if his expression speaks more of utter, brow-knitting concentration. "No matter how many kindly descriptive words you can tack onto me, you're still mad for approaching me. You know that, right?"

"I clearly just wanted the pleasure of your excellent company on this beautiful day." It is delivered as a straight jibe, but deceit is nowhere to be found in the bold simplicity of the answer. The way Yi-Min speaks of it, it might as well be the most transparent thing in the world.

But she has a strong inkling that this will not satisfy Zachery, so after a lapse of several long, easy moments, she says with slightly more curiosity, "Do you only associate with people who are of use to you? What a sad outlook on life this is. If this was my reason for seeking you out today, our relationship so far would be quite the joke."

Interpret that however you will. In the meantime, whatever Zachery is looking for, he will only find Yi-Min looking exactly as she has been this entire time; eyes alight with a faraway nonchalance.

Clearly, she does not think herself in the least mad for approaching Zachery.

"Is it to prove me wrong?" Zachery continues, as if having accepted the explanation and then promptly having tossed it sidewards for the birds to eat. Not good enough. As he walks alongside Yi-Min, he cants his head and twists himself slightly more downward as if to get a different angle on her face, like that will help.

"I just…" Straightening again, he fumbles for words. Stops talking, stops walking, and just stands on the partially overgrown path surrounded by greenery, shoulders sagging. "I'll be quiet, if you just tell me. I just want to understand." The humour, biting and otherwise, is gone from his voice now. "Is it charity?"

Yi-Min comes to a slow halt when she notices that Zachery has done so behind her, and she turns around to face him with a patient breeziness that suggests she does not actually mind the unforeseen interruption to their trek. She does know, however, that now is as good a time as any to explain herself a little more fully, so she tilts her head to one side in a very muted reflection of playfulness.

"Please. My time is too valuable to waste on pity for a man who had tried to attack me at one point. Who on earth has that kind of time? What would I have to gain?" It is certainly reproach of a sort, combined with Yi-Min sounding almost merry as she says this.

"Why do I bother to hang around you? You are entertaining, and you are interesting. And if I had wanted quiet on this walk, again, I would have come here by myself."

Are we done with the silly questions now?


"… Do you have a favourite colour?" With that, Zachery starts walking again. A little taller, a little less weighed down. Yawning as he sticks his hands into his pockets, strolling forward. "I always thought that was a stupid concept, but then someone told me they rely on it for what their entire day's choices look like. So then, I knew it was a stupid concept."

This, the floodgates, Yi-Min has brought upon herself.

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