Herbal Remedies


magnes_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title Herbal Remedies
Synopsis Mu-Qian has one that will cure the blight in Magnes' eye, if not of his personality particulars. Innocence, and so forth.
Date April 1, 2010

Chinatown — Clinic

"Ni jingqiang yao gen women yuehui yige shijian," is what the plump old receptionist tells him, giving the young gravitokinetic the hairy eyeball from over the tiny span of her desk. Despite that her English is abysmal, or at least her manners with employing what English she has were— abysmal, and hostility emanates out of the kohl-lidded eye, some easy, racist subvariety.

The lines in her lips stand out in grooves as she purses them underneath the thickness of brown cosmetic paint. "Appointment." He'd probably understood what she was getting at anyway, the date book spread out under her hands, her pen rapping sharply on its paper surface. The Biro is lifted, the blue plastic end jabbed over at the tiny, cheaply-upholstered couch at the wall.

Everything else about the office is cramped and small too, smells of antiseptic and recent resurfacing despite that nothing but the pens look new. Even the massive cavalcade of small manila folders and dividers behind the receptionist look too yellow to be fresh. She says, "You wait now. Mu-Qian see you soon."

"Yes ma'am!" Magnes quickly heads over to a seat, plopping down with his hands gripping the edges of the arm rests. He's a tad intimidated by all the foreign speaking, and possibly wishes he could remember a thing from all the language tutors he had as a child.

Right now he's wearing a short unzipped black leather coat, stopping just over his knees as he sits back. Under his jacket is a simple dark-blue long-sleeved shirt that has simple Chinese writing on it, saying 'I have no idea what my shirt says'. And on his legs are black pants with large stylized yellow comic letters with a red border going down the outside of the right leg, saying 'POW'. And, there's the plain black snow boots!

Though the woman's parting remarks, muttered at Magnes' turned back, are no doubt incomprehensible on the level of word definitions, the gist is pretty easy to parse. Damn foreigners. She's taking up the phone the next moment, her red-clawed forefinger tapping out a number. The exchange she holds is brief, and fierce as a gull's gargling and quarrelling over a piece of candied popcorn on a boardwalk. Not that anything about Magnes' situation is particularly edible. Especially not his ruined eye.

He might remember people eyeing him like this before. When he was actually a cop.

Five minutes stretch toward ten before the door opens, cedes a slice of a woman's figure into view.

She isn't tall for an Asian woman, but her mingled heritage is pronounced by the generous arch of her nose, a subtle hauteur to her bone structure, complexion, and the natural glint of red to the free-fall of her elbow-length hair, visible only under the staticky ugliness of fluorescent lights like those overhead.

"Mr. Varlane?" her Mandarin accent is an audible erosion in her word choice. She is dressed in white, even underneath the sterile coat pulled on over it, but there's an intimation of greater fluency than the receptionist's delivery. Mistah Va'lane? She casts the older woman a slight smile, sidelong. "This way, please."

"Whoa." is Magnes' reaction to seeing the woman roughly ten years older than himself, not that the age difference is even remotely physically obvious. He stands up, quickly following her before giving the receptionist a quick and polite nod. "You're the doctor? I wasn't expecting you to be so…" Hot, young, female, aesthetically symmetrical. "Ahem, so, someone sent me here to get my eye fixed."

A dark eye switches up to study the injured orb in Magnes' skull. Magnes happens to be totally blind in that eye, obviously, and while closer examination is probably required with a pen light and lollipop at ready, Mu-Qian already knows that no one comes to the White Tigers for major organ surgery. Stitching up bullet wounds or buying a share of illegally acquired 'flu immunizations are a different business, altogether.

The corners of her mouth twitch inscrutably, once, before bending around a geometrically flawless smile. She closes the door behind him and leads him down a narrow linoleum-floored hallway, over to her office. Which is constituted of little more but two desks— a shared space, evidently— and one leather examination couch, its hide a sticky molasses gloss in the half-light of the room. She invites him up on it with a pat-pat of palm atop it.

"Did someone refer you?" she inquires, closing slim fingers around the equally slender light ball-chained at her neck.

Magnes slides back on to the seat of the couch, staring directly into her eyes. He has an excuse, she's the doctor! "John Logan. I'm not a criminal and I would sooner break his nose than be affiliated with him, he just owed me for doing an actually ethical request. I'm just making sure that's out in the open." He smiles, apparently taking some pride in keeping his image Logan-free.

For whatever reason, that crinkles Mu-Qian's eyes with amusement. Insofar as there are no lines betrayed by the thin skin of her face, crows' feet or fish tails, but they do go faintly crescent-shaped above the inverted arc of her smile.

"If he told you I am an eye-specialist, he is wrong," she informs him. "Tilt your head back, please." Ti-ut. Her accent is doubtlessly a charming thing, when she has no reason to take an abusive tone. She gestures with her fingers. There is no lacquer on her fingers except for a glassy transparent layer of sheen over the keratin. "Are you famous? Your name sounds very familiar. Television? Radios?"

"I've been on television a lot. Shibuya Incident, back before I could use my ability very well and I had no training. Kept that chopper from falling on people during the few months I was a cop, and stopped another chopper with the help of FRONTLINE during that big Triad shootout. Uh, I've spoken to Glenn Beck twice on the radio, the first time was an interview, second time was just me being nuts. And I flashed my bullet wounds to the President. I'm sure I've been on TV more, but I think those are the noteworthy times." Magnes smiles, figuring he may as well just throw it all out there at once. It's all on the internet! No big secret for him to keep. "And Logan didn't really tell me anything about you, just said you could help with my eye. I was expecting to show up at a whorehouse and get my eye poked around by a drug addict or something. Didn't think I'd be coming to a clinic with a, well, attractive doctor woman."

It isn't good doctoring, that she touches his face with a bare hand, but at least her hands are clean. She peels his eyelid back with a delicate thumb, maneuvers the thin beam of light over to study the contraction of pupil underneath that layer of cloudy translucent nothing.

It isn't good doctoring, that she touches his face with a bare hand, but at least her hands are clean. She peels his eyelid back with a delicate thumb, maneuvers the thin beam of light over to study the contraction of pupil underneath that layer of cloudy translucent nothing. Or rather, the lack of contraction at all. The organ is dead in its socket, lying like a bloated fish in water, feeding off the gravitokinetic's lifeblood and little else.

Interesting. A suitabe legacy for his colorful history, if nothing else.

"I know of a Chinese remedy that may help," she says, switching the light off with a squeeze of her thumb. She smiles at him, as bright and sterile white as the sun that the unseasonal blizzard has determinedly locked out. "I can give you the address where you should pick it up tonight. May I ask what Logan xiansen did for you?"

"He didn't do a thing for me, but he's certainly done a lot to me. He hired me to help rescue a girl from some group that was kidnapping people. He offered money and my eye back. I didn't want his dirty money, so I made sure that went to someone who needed it, but I do need my eye." Magnes blinks a few times when the light's off, it being quite a few months since his last examination. He smiles when she says she can help, and nods excitedly. "Great! I can't believe you can actually help, they told me I wouldn't be able to see again."

'They' don't know very much, apparently. Mu-Qian straightens, lets the light light fall back against her blouse and smoothes its fabric with a slight tug of her thumbs and forefingers. Trades it for an actual pen, poking out of the pocket of her coat. She clicks an atonal cadence over to her desk, retrieves a slip of thin green paper rife with printed table headers, Chinese, with broken English bracketed in translation next to each. She begins to letter down the address. Some tiny, seedy corner street of Chinatown, a man named Lao, and the scrip itself scrawled out in loopy cursive Mandarin; unreadable to the young gravitokinetic himself.

"You should go here at eight o' clock tonight," she suggests, tearing the slip free. Her neat white heels measure the distance of the floor back to him. "It will be fifty dollars for this consultation, and two hundred and fifty for the herbal remedy.

"It is very rare— you shouldn't tell many people about it, or the price will go up higher." Not a point that she actually bothers to press, oddly enough. Mu-Qian folds the paper up in neat pinches of her fingers, tucks it into the fold of Magnes' hand. Her own are dry, fragrant from something subtler than perfume, and they linger briefly, an amused acknowledgment and gratitude at his consistent compliments as to her looks. "Mix it in a cup of water, and drink. Hopefully, it will work."

Magnes looks down at the folded paper, then slides it into his coat, zipping up the compartment he slips it into. "For three hundred bucks, I've got a feeling this isn't castor oil I'm going after. But Logan said he'd cover the bill, so knock on his door. If he gives you any trouble, you tell me and I'll give him trouble."

He suddenly smiles, looking rather amused himself. "This bad boy thing working for you?"

She has enough English slang in her head to make sense of that phrasing. Mu-Qian's smile widens slightly, and she reaches up to tuck a tendril of dark hair behind her back, even as her strides start a musical lilt toward the doorway. Inviting him to follow with the flick of a long hand.

He knows the way out, but she's willing to walk him. It's nice to be admired like so, with her afternoons spent being largely ignored in favor of half-starved want-to-be starlet twenty-year-olds that the bosses would rather grope and squeeze than speak to, and evenings spent with her child. "It is more important that it works for you, right? Mr. Varlane?" She hangs a pause, politely waiting for him to catch up, even as she gestures a negligent stand-down at the receptionist at the desk. "I think it works for you. But I am glad you want to get your eye back."

"I never realized how much I needed two eyes until spending three months with only one. You have no idea how much I have to compensate for it, especially in a fight." Magnes starts zipping his coat up, which is rather long for something with a zipper, continuing to look over at her as she speaks, and even tripping over his own feet once or twice. "I think the bad boy thing can work for me, at least as a survival technique, and maybe an escape. It's nice to try and be the bad boy, makes me feel pretty good, but it's better to remember at the end of the day, I'm still nice me."

Nice. How obscure and pretty to consider about. When she slides to a halt at the door back to the waiting room, Mu-Qian's fingers lace briefly behind her back, oddly schoolgirlish, watching the young man across the floor. "Maybe you have been a good influence on John," she allows, finally. Releases her fingers, reaches to ease the door open on soundless hinges. "He is a nicer him these days, too. A little bit. I am not mixed up in his… mercenary work," is a nice euphemism for the laboratory raids, the hijacking of drug shipments, "but even I can tell."

"Well, I can only hope he's learned from everything he's done. I like to believe we can all learn and become better people, well, most of us. We're not born bad." Magnes heads out of the door, and starts walking toward the front, grabbing the handle. "I'll cook something and bring it over some time, it's the least I could do. It was really nice meeting you, Mu'Qian."

Two closing doors away, Magnes' parting glimpse of the healer is almost precisely like first sight. One dark eye, a slash of raven hair, white clothes and the shaped metal delicacy of implements strung around her neck, a section of her plastically perfect smile visible, the oblique line of her shoulder held poised at neutral and hands held carefully out of sight. It's that last element that gives way, in the end: she lifts a hand, flares a brief wave out of her fingers. "Remember to drink it all," she tells him.

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