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Scene Title Chimera
Synopsis Under guise of discussing work, Bella presses once again and finds out something interesting and at the same time disconcerting- and revealing in purpose in of itself.
Date May 25, 2010

Staten Island Hospital

Formerly known as Staten Island University Hospital, this facility is a two-campus, 785-bed former teaching hospital. Now the sprawling campus is patrolled by members of the Stillwater Solutions Private Military Company in accordance with their arrangements with the United States Government. The facility itself had been abandoned since the 2006 nuclear explosion on Manhattan when residents of the hospital along with staff were evacuated off of Staten Island. Today the hospital stands as renovated and fully operational, patched back in to the local power grid and ready for use. The many buildings of the Hospital campus are understaffed with only a handful of the actual buildings on the two campuses open and operational.

Access to the hospital is restricted to government personnel and the razorwire fencing surrounding the hospital has large signs warning that tresspassers into the hospital will be potentially met with lethal force. With violent crime as rampant as it is on Staten Island, warnings like this in government controlled areas are not surprising.

With the outside world returning to normal day by day, and the sun beating in weakly through the still frosty windows, it leaves the Staten Hospital's various interns and doctors in a somewhat better mood while they do the tasks at hand. The data that Mohinder supplied to them days before has since been entered into a digital database. Regardless, Bao-Wei Cong has been going back at intervals to review the source materials. Perhaps he thinks the transcribing was wrong, or perhaps he likes the feel of a book in his hand. Whatever the reason behind this, if he has gone missing, chances are that one can find him tucked away looking through Baum's material.

It is where he is now, more or less, hovering around the basement offices where it is fairly warmer, and where he can dwell in a largely peaceful cavern. To himself. Again. Cong is sitting at a singular desk facing the door of this office, a plastic lightbox underneath of the various leaflets they had pried carefully apart. There is a magnification lens attached to a gangly metal arm, positioned between the papers and his glasses.

Then again, maybe he is looking for something. Something that transcribing may have missed. Unlikely as it may be.

Bella has only recently returned from a rather sudden and ill-timed retreat to her other place of employment: Fort Hero. Her reasons were standard, reasonable, and entirely unspecific. This just means Dr. Cong has that much more time alone with the texts, uninterrupted by Dr. Sheridan's own curiosity. It is strange, though, that she would leave after such a great revelation. To each their own, perhaps.

tBut she's back, and when she asks about the locations of both Dr. Cong and the new (old) files, she is conveniently informed that they can often be found both in the same place. So Bella, cloaked in her lab coat and clicking along the halls in her low heels, makes her way to the basement office. Her approach can likely be heard a little while away, the steady tock tock tock tock of footfalls contrasting with the stead hum of ventilation bringing warm air to the rooms in use.

When the tock tock stops, it is followed almost at once by a knock knock, as the psychiatrist raps her knuckles against the office door.

There is a clock on the wall ticking along with the footfalls. These and the vents make some idle rhythms to go by, though they all seem to come to an abrupt end when Bella knocks upon the outside of the door. He heard her, he just didn't want to acknowledge her. She is nosy, prying, and generally irritating to be around in this state.

Bao-Wei knows he would be exactly the same, if given her circumstance. Maybe that is why he hasn't actually chased her away. Cong looks up past the rims of his glasses towards the door.

"Come in."

The door opens with a click and Bella steps inside, closing it behind her. "I'm sorry for my absence," she says, "Tough serving two masters. What bad timing, huh?" She moves over to the desk, fingertips lighting on its edge as she leans over, "Have you made any significant progress? I don't mean to ride on your coattails…" But she will anyways!

"You will regardless." Bao-Wei is not a mind reader by any means. He is just getting very good at reading between her words. His eyes are downcast on the glass over the page he is on. Looks like any old journal entry, unfortunately. For a moment, his eyes flick up to her and back down. "Transcribing all the details is key. I would rather be safe in knowing that I double checked those details before we finalize any digital information." That, and he does not trust that they did not skip anything or write it in terribly.

"I believe the polite term is 'collaboration'," Bella says, with a slanted smile, "Details, sure, but has any big picture stuff emerged yet? Any clear paths for us to go down, new avenues of research?" Bella, lacking any specific training, is all about big ideas and strategic goals. Her function is necessarily administrative. Her eyes find nothing to really catch upon, so she straightens back up, folding her arms across her chest.

"There's been something on my mind, from the virus. It did depower them, destabilize the abilities. It came back for most, but there were some cases where the abilties did not fully recover, in part or whole." Bao-Wei flips the page over under the glass, scanning the backside. "I was considering moving down the road of finding a way to help those cases. If we would be able to get someone in here with that problem, we could make an attempt to reinstate them using what we already have. Meet the issue halfway."

Bella's smile gleams, "That's a stroke of genius," she says, "It would also obviate the need for extra-legal measures of subject acquisition. I'm sure we could get a body of perfectly willing subjects. I mean, some of our more sensitive testing may require subjects under duress, but imagine how much less of a headache it'll be to even just have a control group of legal subjects. The saved money alone!"

"I favor myself a shrewd businessman." Bao-Wei glances up at her again, sitting back in his chair. From what he's slipped out about before he was here, maybe she was able to guess the businessman part. "I am certain we can find volunteers. We may need to set up a small lab somewhere else for it. I've lectured at the Suresh Center before, they may be keen on the idea of helping us. Though I do not know where our benefactors stand on the matter of that place."

"The should view it as a resource," Bella says, "But there's no limit to governmental rigidity about some things. Though God even knows if our so-called benefactors can even be called governmental at this point. I've ceased to really know whose game we're pieces in, or what color each side is." She tilts her head. "Where did you study classics, Dr. Cong? Or is it more a hobby for you?" Out of blue, perhaps?

"I prefer to think of myself as the two-sided clock in a game of chess." He recites the complex metaphor as if he has thought about it more than once, reaching out to click off the light of the plastic box illuminating parts of manuscript. When Bella switches entirely to matters he was reluctant to discuss, Cong looks at her with a rigid squint of his face before getting from his seat. He leaves the papers as they are otherwise, possibly going to return at another time.

"A class while I was in Columbia. It since turned into hobby. Good to know where the roots of your trade are, and what they were like."

"I did my medical degree at Columbia," Bella comments, pleasantly, trying to keep her line of inquiry hedged in conversation, "But my father read me all sorts of Greek myths when I was young. Censored appropriately, of course. But I knew you weren't talking about Kafka," her head tilts, "Chimera. The patchwork monster. The genetic anomaly. An interesting self identification, especially for someone of your expertise."

For a moment longer, Bao-Wei does not comment on this, instead pocketing a notepad under the shuffle of desktop; it's a new one, he seems to have been making notes. When he looks back up to Bella, one of his hands follows towards his left eye. He taps at the corner of his socket with one fingertip, for all intensive purposes signalling off the one that is a hazel under the strong light and at such a close distance. She sees it every day, but for some reason it has pertinence now.

"If you think that it is an interesting identification, I shall take your word for it."

He's gesturing towards his heterochromia, a peculiar little genetic anomaly. Bella arches her brow. "I must assume that is symptomatic of something beyond a pigmentation issue," she says, "I'm no geneticist, and even a geneticist has to throw everything out the window because of the Evolved. Allow me to ask, outright: what is your condition, Dr. Cong? I ask a physician, bound by confidentiality."

"An extremely rare form of tetragametic chimerism." Bao-Wei is slow to answer, but in the end, he does answer her, albeit ambiguously so. And for now he seems to leave it at that answer, moving to clear up some of the folders he had brought out of the cabinets to look over. Between the shuffle of paper and the light squeak of plastic sheaves on the table, it looks as if Bella has the chance to leave it alone to study herself- or pursue as she had been, his difficulty and unwillingness included.

Where do her priorities lie? The decision is filtered, as is so often the case, in the way Bella wishes to be perceived. Dedication to the project is something Dr. Cong is more likely to respect - much more likely than her natural psychiatric urge towards interrogation. Does she want to play the long game, or the short game? She brushes a strand of hair back, the gesture buying her a moment's consideration. "The brilliance of four scientific minds, then?" she says, lightly, trying to have it both ways, like always, "Since birth?"

"Congential means no other way." Bao-Wei, by the time she asks, is in the middle of putting some of the finished works away. Working diligently through the cloud of something he does not really feel like addressing, but seems to be nonetheless. Cong makes it as simple as he can. "Four separate reproduction cells to eventually create two blastocysts, which in turn fuse into one embryo. Multiple sets of chromosomes- my DNA is quite a mess."

"In layman's terms, I fused with my nonidentical twin." Just in case he did lose her.

"What is your medication, then? Immunosuppressants? Steroids?" Bella asks, tone one of merely clinical interest, "Do you and your twin get along?" This last is /mostly/ a joke, though it's both more and less than one. Being allergic to some of your body tissue would be one hell of a way to not get along with your sibling, and Evolved being what they are… one can never know how literal a saying may have become. Its long past the time when 'if looks could kill' could be considered always contrary to fact. Medusae, chimerae… legends live.

"…Heavy dose hormones, mild steroids- among other things. My twin was female."

Judging by how he is now leaving his rumbling echo behind, turning off the light, and headed for the door, this may just be the end of the conversation if Bella does not try to follow up for the umpteenth time. Doctor Cong has more important things to do.

This is information enough for now. Bella suspects there may be more to it - none of what Bao-Wei has said accounts for the sheer force and temperature of the rage she saw when she stumbled across him. But to press to hard now would be to lose everything. But she can't /quite/ keep her peace. She follows after a little, hand lifting to touch under the light switch, flicking it back on so that she can turn her attention to Baum's work once this encounter is over. "Ah! I thought you had a feminine grace about you," she quips, in parting, her lips curled in a self-satisfied smile.

Bao-Wei leans back into the door, mismatched eyes drawing quite murderously towards Sheridan, voice as level as a slab of stone. "If I did not need you, you would be dead for lesser words. I have shot better men for far less." The only thing that is missing is the smoke curling from his mouth and nose. The look- and the manner- is devilish, draconic.

"I will hear no more of this, and I will hold you to your silence." A beat's pause.

"Else I will make good on my nature, your usefulness be damned."

The door slams behind him when he goes, this time.

[OOC] Bella tries to think of what the appropriate apology card would look like.
[OOC] Bao-Wei /dies/. oh my god I can't even imagine.
[OOC] Bella says, "'Roses are red, violets are blue, some orchids are hybrids, and so are you!'"

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