Doctor's Orders


bao-wei_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Doctor's Orders
Synopsis Squeaks has no intention of following them.
Date August 26, 2019


Public Library

The library is as large as one would expect it to be, in a place like this. Approximately the same levels of activity as any other. People tend to dissipate towards the later evenings, but there is always a night crowd before the hours wrap. Sometimes even after, if they've the right clearances. Or connections, in some cases.

It's not quitting time for public hours, just yet; it is, however, a brisk temperature in here, lingering between the shelves and cooling rather than freezing. Nothing an extra layer doesn't help with.

The perpetrator, of course, is Doctor Cong, here despite his personal archives elsewhere. He is hunched at a table in the back, lurking, flipping pages and tapping against a tablet with great care. His shape is not at all the one encountered at the pool. He almost looks- - normal? Not quite. Bao-Wei drops his attention from the tablet to a pen and paper. Those don't freeze.

Closer inspection yields a frostbitten blue pallor and ice-blackened fingers, mouth, extremities. Hair long, streaked with a couple shocks of silver. That eye remains a brilliant molten gold, his other sunken in, milky in the way of cataracts. Both behind glasses, lenses thin. A lab coat helps with masking his state, but that's all it is. No shirt underneath, just a prickling coat of ice. Pants stop at bare feet. A shocking state for anyone to be in, but for him…?

Just another evening.

Libraries have been home away from home for Squeaks. A vacation that takes the form of worlds that are colored and shaped by words and imagination. Books have long been an escape from the inescapable places of the real world, objects of adventures and secrets and knowledge.

So for the young teenager to spend an evening amongst the stacks is perfectly normal for people who know her. For those that don't…

She's still a bit of an oddity.

Not that she seems to notice. Or care. The spines, in leather or fabric or paper each in different colors and showing wear just as varied, bear titles and subjects that hold interest only for as long as it takes the girl to read them. Like the occasional double-take or lingering glance, these books aren't really what she's looking for.

Neither is Bao-Wei. And yet icy air is more intriguing this evening than finding a new story to read.

She hasn't exactly gone to any lengths to avoid him since their first meeting, but she also hasn't been trying to find him again either. But she remembers that chill. There's nothing else that could make it, no reason for a creeping cold to be in the library unless it was the dragon-man.

Blue eyes beneath a head of red hair peek around a tall shelf unit to where the doctor sits. Squeaks watches in silent but obvious curiosity.

Breath fogs the screen of the tablet briefly, its screen flicking from one chart to another. Sooner than later he shuts it off completely and slides it out of reach. Stares at it, with that boring yellow eye, before picking up the frosted pencil again. Manual it is.

Doctor Cong isn't hard to find, nor his name unspoken of in the private levels of the pyramid. She'll likely by now know that he is some sort of research scientist, though of what, who knows. But he's important. While nobody seems particularly keen to speak ill of him, there is an invisible weight of intimidation and avoidance. For most the lesser interaction is for the better.

He works better alone, anyway. Of what few partners he has had in his works, only a couple of them remain still in his regard. One is missing. One is working for Raytech.

A reminder of the latter comes when he feels eyes on him and angles a subtle glance around the library, pencil still working and face angled down. The table as a desk, one blackened hand taps hard fingers against the surface. Bao-Wei finally, after what seems the longest minute, looks up over the rim of his glasses and gives up the subtler attempts to spy the peeping Squeaks.


The rumbling echo of the dragon's voice is gone, though the man's own is still of a certain depth befitting authority.

“What are you working on,” comes Squeaks’ response. Taking his query as an invitation to trade a question for a question. She doesn't move herself out from behind the stacks, and her voice is a contrasting near whisper. But the curiosity is obvious. For the work and the man doing the work.

Speaking of which…

The young teen leans against the shelving as she stares hard at the dragon-man. Definitely a man right now and not a dragon. It might be worthy of a question another time, but she's read stories where dragons could turn into people and back again.

"Ah. You." It seems that perhaps his vision isn't as hawkish- - like this. Ears, fine. Though Bao-Wei's answer comes at a clip, it is less dismissive and more put-upon. Not her fault, and yet. His off-hand lifts to rake hair back, and with what seems a particularly concerted effort, portions of his face and hands establish firmer holds back to flesh and bone. Frostbite subsides some. The gauntness of Cong's face does too, cheeks filling before the furrow of his brow.

Squeaks has no way of knowing he does this just for her.

"Neurotoxigenic synthetics."

The doctor doesn't beckon her closer, though he doesn't tell her to leave him alone either. Much like before.

“You're… making…” Squeaks puzzles over the possibilities of what neurotoxigenic synthetics could possibly be. Synthetics is easy, like how some things are found in nature but can also be made in a lab. Neurotoxigenics. That isn't so easy. “Sequences of… toxins that affect the brain?”

She squints, nose wrinkling. That seems like a strange thing to study. Also complicated.

“Is that what you do for work?”

"Not making personally." Bao-Wei corrects her, idly scratching in something to his notes. "Just studying. It is one of the several things I do here, yes." He hesitates a moment, squinting back over his glasses again. Gauging what, precisely, he is at liberty to share. Assuredly, not a lot. "I'm working on a medicine. We've had neurological issues in trials."

"That said, I am here as often for myself as often as for work." Though he isn't exactly crawled up in a corner with a novel, Squeaks can probably understand the escapism- - even if Cong doesn't say it out loud.

"And what could it be that you're up to?" Golden eye returns to his work, the other still stony blank.

Squeaks scuffs a shoe against the floor as she considers what she could possibly be up to. Definitely not reading, she doesn't even have a book with her. And all of those she's passed have gone untouched. So what is it that she's doing in the library?

“Watching people.” Which makes sense, given her not-so-subtle observations of the dragon-man. “That's all.” The teen shrugs the shoulder not supporting her against the shelf. “What trials are you working on? What kinds of neurological issues?”

Perhaps in some way, he has had practice in working while being hovered near; he seems to have that sort of manner, neither ignoring nor too thoroughly engaging. Yet.

The girl's reply, as honest as it is, coaxes an amused sound out of Doctor Cong, a brief but pointedly humored huff of air.

"Mnn, tech and chemical trials with organic subjects." It's not an answer she'd like, but it is the one she gets. "Varied types of seizures, primarily… some physical degradation, though the brain is priority. People tend to not get far without it, healthy body or not."

"Speaking of health- - " Bao-Wei spares her a glance, idly processing. "I've been told I need to do a full blood panel with you. It is nothing serious. Standard lab work. Tests." If it were more serious, he wouldn't be telling her so casually in the library.

No, people do pretty much need their brains to go on living. Squeaks’ expression and the faint sound she makes is understanding. No argument there.

She does begin to wonder what kind of tech and chemicals would cause seizures and things to happen. Maybe something like her uncle’s work. That thought is given an unpleasant look, dark and… vindictive?

It remains, if colored with suspicion, when Bao-Wei speaks directly. Tests? “Who said,” Squeaks counters, just as direct. Maybe even challenging. “And why?” Serious or not, those are fair questions. And they need answers before she will even consider letting her blood out of her body for any tests.

It is precisely that work; Stefan is here, and right in Bao-Wei's pocket. He keeps the two carefully positioned to never conflict. Chess was always a breeze. If he seems put off by the sour little look, of course he doesn't share it.

"When was the last time you had labs done? For your health?" Doctor Cong leans back in his chair, notes on pause. Frost prickles here and there, a curious crawl. "Or even more than a physical? As for who," Brows lift, but then comes a twinge of expression, briefly discomforted by something physical, rather than by her. It passes, though after a small silence.

"Who do you think?" Perhaps he thinks she should already have guessed. "Your father asked me to look into it. I won't force you, but I certainly think it is for the best… believe it or not, I did run a clinic. At least… once upon a time." Cong waves his hand, implicating before all this.

“But why?” Why tests, why Doctor Dragon-Man, why is it best, why… why? If anything, Squeaks’ suspicion only grows, and her challenging tone becomes more obvious. She's not so easily persuaded to follow doctors or scientists because they think it's for the best. Best of what?

Her frame shifts, straightening out of the idle lean she'd adopted moments ago. “He needs to say so, to me and not from anyone else.” Then maybe she will think about this testing and blood work stuff.

"Haven't you ever gone for check-ups?" It's an honest inquiry, the doctor's head tilting in return. "No, I suppose you may not have, hmn, " He seems keen enough to answer his own question after a moment, giving Squeaks a more thoughtful sidelong look.

"Tests for checking the different levels of substances in your blood, how well your organs are functioning, making sure that you do not have any abnormal readings which could otherwise indicate sickness. Catching anything before it makes you sick. Is that a good enough explanation? To make sure you are healthy on the inside, even though I can plainly see you are hale on the out." Bao-Wei settles into a more disgruntled manner, possibly offended on principle. As a man of medicine. He never said he had a great bedside skill.

"If you want him to say it, I'm sure he'd be thrilled." His hand holding pencil taps its eraser against paper. "I believed I ought to be transparent. It would have been much worse to spring it on you." Cong did her a favor, see? He's being nice about it.

The dragon-man might be keen to answer his own questions, but Squeaks doesn't offer anything. She keeps her history to herself, sharing it with those she thinks should know. Like those who could probably give her answers. And even though Bao-Wei might be able to tell her things about herself, she's still not ready — or willing — to part with her blood.

“All of me is working just like it's supposed to,” she declares, thank you very much. “But if Adam wants me examined then he will tell me.” How much she can truly rely on that claim is a mystery even to her, but confidence resonates in her tone. Her father had been the one to tell her about her uncle, after all, this is something not so huge as that.

She watches the man for a second longer. “Thank you for telling me, though.” Squeaks eyes squint slightly, studying the doctor’s expression and posture as she talks. “When my dad has talked to me about it, I'll find you. Then we can talk about tests.”

Squeaks is bound to realize he likes to hear himself talk. Because of course he would. Cong gives her time to give him an answer, even if the result is just the further twitch of a browline in return.

"A lot of people like to say that they're working properly." Bao-Wei's only implication here is that he has met far too many where the opposite turned out to be true. It can be the stubborn ones that get the short of it, but Squeaks and her reticence isn't unfamiliar to him. He can work around it. A single nod is what she gets for her gratitude; insofar as reading his posture, it still appears as someone indulging another, as it had when she popped her head out at him. Not necessarily as one might a child- - rather, as one would humor a cat hopping onto your keyboard.

"I hope to see you then." Doctor Cong's enunciation says when and not if, though subtle.

“Okay.” As far as the young teen is concerned, the dragon-man can hope all he wants. She still has almost no intention of subjecting herself to testing on some stranger’s whim. And even if Adam is behind the request… well, it's still her choice to make. Her eyes squint a little with suspicion. Maybe solidifying the fact, without words, that her lack of acquiescence is not to be doubted.

With a faint huff and a short nod, neither of which are agreeing to the terms, she turns away from Bao-Wei and his work. Her departure is less of the meandering way she wove through the library, but neither is she rushing. A more direct path between stacks of books is hers, purposeful strides leading her out to be lost in the crowd.

An hour later…

Making sure she wasn't being followed was easy. Small and slight as Squeaks is, she can vanish almost as well as a ninja in a forest. For her, the people in the public areas are the trees, and other shops just deeper pockets to hide within. Years of living in the Underneath have given her that edge, and her ability substantially aids the skill.

It's the scenic route that she takes to her apartment, once she's certain that the only shadow she has is her own. It brings her through the maze of stairways and hallways, outside of the public areas but not closed off to her, past doors only familiar by sight and through the kitchen which prepares meals for the residents on the upper floors.

The girl isn't an unfamiliar sight within the sterility of the kitchens. She's visited plenty, usually to secure a snack between planned meals, so her passing through is barely regarded as out of place. Light fingers tap against steel storage racks as Squeaks walks among shelves and preparation areas. An apple finds its way from a ceramic dish into her possession. It's okay, it won't be missed. Freshly baked rolls grab her attention next…

But it isn't the tantalizing smell of yeasty bread that stays her hand. It's the small device, a cell phone like the kind she's got hidden in her apartment, left unattended beside the tray of still warm rolls that her gaze settles on.

Her head swivels, and her hand drops into the darkened screen. Somewhere on the other side of the kitchen there's a murmur of voices, but otherwise she's alone…

As the door to the kitchen swings almost silently closed behind her, Squeaks tears off a bite of soft, new bread. She makes a hushed sound, a yummy noise, and resumes her travels to her apartment. Nothing out of the ordinary about it, just the one kid with residency in the upper floors with a roll in one hand, and an apple masking the shape of a cell phone in her pocket.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License