Research Partnership

Participants:

bella_icon.gif mohinder_icon.gif

Scene Title Research Partnership
Synopsis Doctor Bella Sheridan finds opportunity in failure when Mohinder Suresh extends a branch of invitation from the Commonwealth Institute.
Date April 5, 2010

Upper West Side

Bella's Apartment


Travel has become exceptionally arduous as of late, and with her (admittedly if slowly improving) injury making even normal personal transport sort of a colossal pain in the rear, Bella has opted to stay in tonight. She's more or less finished updating her private practice files, her Company work kept safely at a less easily broken-into location (an increasing concern lately), and has discovered that she can navigate much of the house by remaining in her wheeled office chair and using her crutch as a sort of gondolier's pole, a trick that crashes her into several walls, a couple doors and the side of her couch at first, but one that she is getting much better at.

Eyeing the clock, she notes the time: around 9:15, which is late enough to use substances as far as she's concerned. She pilots her ad hoc wheelchair across the living room, towards her bedroom, where she keeps her paraphernalia (which have been seeing increased use lately, what with a dead friend, presumed dead lover and a much-too-recent suspension), and is in the process of procuring her vaporizer when suddenly the lights go dead.

"God-frickin'-dammit…" the shrink mutters, one hand still clasped around the middle of the metal cone. Without power, she can't activate the heating element, so there goes that plan. Managing to locate and load her backup devices will need at least some illumination, so she decides to make her way back into the kitchen, to the whatnot/junk drawer, where she keeps her flashlight. This is rapidly becoming an adventure. As it turns out, it's even /harder/ to pilot an office chair in the darkest dark, and while she miraculously clears the door into the living room, she misjudges the distance and thumps into the side of the couch a second time. Growling her frustration, she decides, vocally and to no one at all: "Screw it!" And turns herself so that she can back onto the couch, flopping back, leaving her legs supported by the office chair's seat. She stares up into the darkness above her, blowing a stray strand of red hair away from her face.

Such is the dignity of Isabella Sheridan, off hours.

It would figure of course that once she's settled down on the couch that there would be a steady rhythm of four knocks in rapid-fire succession against her apartment's door. The knocks only come once, though the muffled murmur of a confused voice outside is likely contemplating just how many flights of stairs they're going to need to move down should the power not come back on before they have to leave.

Without enough time to truly merit a response, there's another four quick knocks on the door, this time with something more of an introduction. "Doctor Sheridan," comes the clipped Hindi accent of the man on the other side, "Doctor Sheridan are you home?"

Loath as she is to abandon the good ship Sheridan, Bella is not about to answer the door using this evening's absurd means of conveyance. She gets to her feet in the normal crippled way, and swings over to the door. In days of yore she'd just open the door, see who it was, her smile already in place. But she's already replaced the hinges on this door one, and the locks twice, so she's getting rather more used to a certain healthy dose of paranoia. Something they should really mention in the Company orientation video, she thinks. She peeks through the peephole… only to see that it's just as dark on the /other/ side of the door as it is in here. Which is obvious. Whoops.

"One moment please!" Bella calls to her visitor, and hobbles over to the kitchen to get that flashlight she had her mind set on only moments ago. She finds it after fumbling over just a couple drawer handles, a nice, hefty flashlight with a knobbly rubber grip, flicks it on and heads back to the door. She wedges the flashlight between one of shoulders and her jaw, and pulls the door open, scooting to the side to accommodate the swing radius. The flashlight's beam cuts unevenly across the visitor's features, and Bella grips the flashlight, taking full control of it back and centering the beam on the visitor's face. Oh, so /that's/ who it is.

Bella immediately withdraws the potentially unpleasant brightness of the beam and directs it up at herself a la campfire ghost stories, divulging her features and identity, as well as that well practiced smile. "Dr. Suresh, please, come in." She hops to the side, making way for him, "Apologies for the wait. I'm really not equipped to deal with these blackouts, as you can see." No inquiries as to the reasons for his visit. Right now she's just trying to keep the faux pas at a minimum.

Squinting at the welcome typical of a state trooper at a car window and less so a former — if not somewhat peripheral — work colleague. "Ah, well… it's all understandable, we've got to make do with what we have, right?" There's a shift of Mohinder's eyes out to the hall before he makes his way into the apartment behind Bella, just taking a few strides in past the door before hesitating and looking down at his shoes tracking water in.

"I apologize for coming by unannounced, but when I called your cellular it was off and, if I can hazard a guess, the power was probably much like this when I tried your land line." Tucking gloved hands into the pockets of his brown jacket, Mohinder's silhouette isn't impossible to define in the apartment, with the faded glow of lights down on street level from passing cars still giving some semblance of sporadic illumination to the apartment.

"Oh ah," Mohinder grimaces, "By all means Doctor Sheridan please, sit down." He seems at least tangentally aware of her injuries. "I'll profess a little ignorance about your current situation, I'm afraid. I went by Fort Hero earlier today to discuss some matters involving you with Director Bishop, and discovered that you'd been… suspended?" There's an arch of one dark brow at the notion, and Mohinder squares his shoulders and shuffles his footing to shift weight ot one foot more so than the other.

"I was wondering if you happened to have something of a cleaner schedule, considering your ah, work status?" There's a careful deliberation of verbage there, and Mohinder's dancing around the topic of Bella's Refrain research seems rather pointed.

Bella takes the time, while making her way to the couch, to consider just why prominent geneticist and vanguard of Evolved research Dr. Mohinder Suresh (yes, relation), has arrived to her already-dark and therefore hopefully not further darkenable doorstep. Mention of Bob Bishop ups the stakes in her mind, meaning that this is big enough to involve both Suresh /and/ the upper administrative echelons of the Company. So far, his words can only give her hope. A clean schedule is one that needs filling, after all. But she's not about to get her spirits lifted. Play it cool, Bella.

She secures her seat and sets her crutch to one side, folding her hands in her lap and looking up at Mohinder's indistinct shadow. "Yes, my hands are quite free as of right now, much to my chagrin," Bella admits, eyes slowly, slowly, adapting to the dark, "Is there anything you or Director Bishop might need my assistance with?" The tone of her reply is helpful but casual. No need to appear desperate for redemption. No need to appear weak. In matters of Company politics, just as in matters of evolution, the fittest and most adaptable survive.

"Not… director Bishop no." Mohinder admits as diplomatically as possible, his gloved hands lacing together in front of himself before a nervous need to keep them moving has him adjusting the frames of his glasses as his eyes scan the windows of the apartment at the glow of passing headlights. "I'm not sure how much you've heard about my current work, but i've been outsourced from the Company for some time to a group of private researchers working for the Department of Defense."

Slanting a look back to Bella's silhouette, Mohinder lifts a dark brow in rheotorical query; "Have you heard of the Commonwealth Institute of Massachusetts?" He doesn't give her much time to respond, just lubricates the introduction with a question. "They've been heading up the United States Government's independent research into the Evolved for some time now, and are… independent of the Company's work?"

Scrubbing a gloved hand at his scruffy chin, Mohinder's weight once more switches to his other foot. "I've been working with them since the summer of last year, and… there's some research projects I've been permitted to head up recently, and after reading your report that was filed to the Company about your Refrain trials, I'll— " Mohinder breathes out a laugh, "let's just say your particular breakthrough in discovering a drug that can amplify the SLC's expression in humans is something the Institute has been working on for some time now already."

There's a gesture of both of Mohinder's hands, halfway between a shrug and an offering motion. "The Institute has me putting together a team of researchers to work here in New York, privately in a satellite facility to the Cambridge Massachusetts facility. Your name was at the top of my short list of people I'd like to be on that team."

This comes as something of a surprise, but Bella has a good enough poker face to only show the /appropriate/ amount of surprise, a polite amount, though the expression itself, its nuance, is mostly lost in the lack of light. The flashlight she leans forward to place on the coffee table, light directed upwards, where it forms that weird set of concentric circles and bounces just a little more illumination into the room generally. Just a little.

"I'm incredibly flattered," Bella says, touching a hand to her collarbone in a dainty gesture, "And glad that my failures are something you're willing to overlook. The difficulties that project suffered were the product of my own lack of administrative experience, and my diving in a little /too/ headfirst. So, while my first instinct is of course to place myself at your disposal, out of respect to you and the team I'd be joining, I'd like to ask what my role in this new facility will be, insofar as you are allowed to tell me. I don't wish to act in bad faith, considering what a lack of caution and my ignoring the limits of my own abilities led to last time." That and the fact that her miraculous discovery had little to do with her scientific genius and much more to do with her lack of ethical restraint.

"I wouldn't call what happened to you a failure on your part, I see that wholly as a failure of the Company to facilitate you with the resources research like yours required, Doctor Sheridan. I— " there's an audible pop and a rumble of machinery in the apartment coming to life as the lights kick back on, flooding warm illumination and the beeps-click-chirp of electrinic devices awakening through the residence. Mohinder flashes a smile to Bella, snorting out a laugh and shaking his head.

"There's generators where you'll be working," he notes in joking commentary, head shaking slowly. "Now what was I, ah…" lifting a hand up, Mohinder scrubs his gloved hand at his chin again and offers an askance look to Bella. "Yes the… the Company failed you, Doctor Sheridan. Your position at the satellite facility would be as chief researcher on a number of Institute-related projects. I've brought on a rather talented fringe scientist as well, Doctor Bao-Wei Cong, you may've heard of him he has a few small publications on the topic of the Evolved. However," there's a cant of Mohinder's head to the side, "Doctor Cong was instrumental in the refinement and synthesis of Refrain, and his mind is a brilliant one. He'd be working beneath you with… minimal oversight?"

Bella winces slightly as the lights swell back into light, and shields her eyes for a moment, as her pupils contract to a proper size. She laughs at Mohinder's joke, and it's not just polite. This levity is more than appreciated after her grilling by that weasel, the interim director, and the more understanding but still very scary Thompson. Bella shakes her head, "It's one thing to complain about a lack of help, it's another to complain when one never bothered /asking/ for it." It's easy to be magnanimous when one's mistakes are answered with /this/ opportunity.

Bella draws herself to her full height - full seated height, but still - and gives Mohinder a single nod. "It would be my honor to direct the research of this branch of the Institute. And it would be my honor, as well, to work with Dr. Cong. I attended one of his lectures at the Suresh Center, and it makes me very glad to know that his talent and vision have been noticed by the Institute. If nothing else, I am sure that this team will not be short-sighted." She flashes a smile, "Not that you need to be reminded of the value of forward thinking, Dr. Suresh. You were here well before the rest of us."

"There were many bright minds before myself too, but you'll find that all out in due time," Mohinder states with an affable smile. "Your primary research at this facility will be something known as Project Icarus, the documentation on it will be made available to you on arrival at the facility. Doctor Cong has already had several days to acclimate himself to our facility, and it's located within the reclaimed zone on Staten Island, the University Hospital." Mohinder lifts a hand to his glasses, adjusting them again before glancing towards the windows of the apartment, brows furrowed in thought.

When his dark eyes settle back on Bella, there's a crooked smile on his lips. "As for security, the entire grounds of the reclaimed zone are patroled by the National Guard at Miller Field across from the hospital, and we have a long-standing contract with the PMC organization Stillwater Solutions, your security needs will be far more prominent than your prior experience. Should your research be met with promising results, you may also find yourself with visitations by researchings from the primary facility up north."

Wetting his lips, Mohinder tucks his hands into the pockets of his jacket again, and regards the apartment door. "However, your work at the Institute is entirely private, I hope you understand. You'll be signing a non-disclosure agreement on-site and I imagine I don't need to express how important the aspect of secrecy is to this endeavor."

"Icarus?" Bella says, a brow lifting, "Someone evidently has a sense of humor. I hope the previous project wasn't named 'Prometheus' or 'Pandora'." There Bella goes, making that high school education really work for her. She doesn't riff any further on the name, though. There's a fine line between cleverness and smart-assery. In all seriousness… "I understand entirely. Honestly, at the moment I could use some time lying low. I've had too many incidents as of late. I'm sure I can acquaint myself with the details more thoroughly later - I don't wish to take up more of your valuable time. I've only one question, though, and I understand if you cannot answer it here and now, but still, I'd like to ask. All jokes aside, what sort of work will I be engaged in for Project Icarus? In as specific terms as you are permitted."

"It's been Icarus since the 1940s when the project started. Perhaps the researchers in Berlin had a sense of humor?" There's an arch of Mohinder's brow speculatively at that. "I've reason to believe not," he adds with a crooked smile. Though at the question of what kind of work is involved, Mohinder tilts his head to the side, squares his jaw and offers a look up to Bella with a measure of a smile.

"Exactly what you excell in, according to your reports, Doctor Sheridan. But Project Icarus…" There's a furrow of Mohinder's brows, "Project Icarus is about finding the divide between those with the SLC and those without, and bridging the gap. You're researching the origins of the Evolved, Doctor Sheridan, a research project over sixty years in the making. If you and your team succeed…" there's a crack of a smile, "you'll change the world."

Berlin, 1940? Ill omens. The accusations of Mengele-esque practices rise in Bella's recollection. There is the most momentary of thinning lips before she masters her reaction, and simply nods. "I will begin at the earliest possible convenience. My schedule is, as you ascertained, clear. When might I see the facility, and meet Dr. Cong? I'm eager to begin our working relationship."

To that, Mohinder offers a flash of a smile, even if it's painted over a reciprocated expression of worry, likely from the same connections Bella had made herself. "I have good news for you on that front, Doctor Sheridan…" Mohinder notes with a raise of his brows, moving a gloved hand from his pocket to produce a magnetic proximity card that reads Staten Island University Hospital — Research Staff.

"You can start tomorrow."


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