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Scene Title Leverage
Synopsis Presented with a unique problem, and dire circumstances, two doctors strike a deal to remedy the situation.
Date February 9, 2011

Suresh Center

The second floor is an idiosyncratic combination of small medical center and psychiatric hospital. In the back of the building are several lab rooms, equipped with everything from blood-test equipment to an MRI; despite its size, the facility is competitive in a features sense with many larger and more mainstream hospitals. The core is dominated by a multipurpose room, usually serving as a cafeteria but sometimes transformed into a game hall or ad-hoc movie theater; on either side of it are the two permanently-staffed nurse stations, the balcony at the front offering a view of Roosevelt Island and the opportunity for plenty of sunlight.

One wing of this floor has been given over to a medium-term ward, intended to house medical or psychiatric patients for only a few days, perhaps a couple of weeks at most. Most rooms are double-occupancy, particularly for medical patients, but in some cases they may be allocated as singles; all have large exterior windows and are surprisingly not painted in generic institutional shades. Rather, they each have their own personal theme, from ascetic to modern, oceanic blues to autumn reds and browns. Rooms are allocated primarily by what environment a patient feels comfortable in. The opposite wing is the Suresh Center's juvenile ward, designated for the care of Evolved children and teenagers coming to terms with their abilities. It has its own rec room, several single-occupancy rooms, and at the end of the hall a larger shared room for siblings, friends, and children who do better in company. As for the adult ward, the décor is engaging and inviting rather than blandly uniform.

Visitors are required to check in at one of the stations before going anywhere else on this floor, and in some cases may be provided with an escort for the duration of their visit.

The Suresh Center is one of the few places on Roosevelt Island's encapsulated region that still has electricity.

Power drawn from generators beneath the building is being rationed, with non-essential electrical systems disabled unless needed. No lights are turned on during the daytime hours, meaning blinds are pulled open and natural daylight gives a haunting, abandoned quality to the empty halls of the building. While some one hundred and sixteen employees of the Suresh Center were at work when the dome first went up, only a third of them are here now in a functional capacity. Most have taken up residence in offices and conference rooms as makeshift shelters with blankets and pillows taken from the medical wing to make their hopefully temporary stay comfortable.

The third that are actually working don't, in truth, work for the Suresh Center, they work for the Institute. On the Suresh Center's second floor, the medical wing's halls are dark, save for where daylight reflects off of white tiled floors and light colored walls. Most of the facility isn't running, and many of the Institute's field agents were outside of the dome's boundaries before it arose, visible now like an uncleaned fishbowl on the horizon, darkened with air pollution and unfiltered airborne waste.

"Not good, not good…" The mantra so murmured is spoken by Doctor Jean-Martin Luis, head of clinical research here at the Suresh Center, while head of the entire biomedical division up north in Massachusetts. Stalking down the unlit corridor, Luis snaps a rubber glove off of one hand, pushing open a medical waste basket's lid to drop inside, his hands trembling as he does.

"Nombre de globules blancs est bas une autre de quinze pour cent…" Luis mutters to himself, sweeping one trembling hand up to his eyes, then across his forehead and through his curly gray hair. "Je dois … doit trouver un moyen de la stabiliser avant qu'elle ne plonge dans un etat critique."

Tired, old eyes alight to the hallway, then back down to the floor. "God damnit where is Doctor Price."

He'd sent her a text a whole six minutes ago.

"Whose white count is down fifteen percent, Doctor?"

Doctor Price's voice rings through the corridor. There was no warning of her emergence, despite that her four-inch satin heels should have announced her arrival. They don't make any sound as she's suddenly much closer than her voice from behind Luis pinged her to be.

She's been sleeping in her office, with her desk pushed in front of the door, and a blade in her hand. Call it paranoia. She'll call it playing it safe where Ethan Holden is concerned. She doesn't look well-rested, understandably. She's long since stopped trying to hide the dark circles beneath her eyes with the make-up kit she keeps in the bottom drawer for touch-ups. Eyeliner's been slept in, its smudged quality doing little to help her current state.

Odessa is quick to rest a hand on her colleague's shoulder, concern settled in her own features when she realises the state he's in. Her mind jumps to an unhappy conclusion. "Où est-elle?"

Straightening up and offering a wild-eyed look to Odessa, Doctor Luis stares vacantly at her for a moment before clearing his throat and motioning with one trembling finger towards the temporal manipulator. "Julie," is a whispered hiss of her name, "her health has been deteriorating since that infernal barrier was erected. I've several hypothesis as to why, but none of that matters if she dies before there's anything I can do about it." Wringing his hands together, Luis turns his attention towards a partly open medical room door, then back to Odessa with a worried curve of his lips downward.

"I called you, because I read in your dossier that you were able to put yourself into a form of…" One of Luis' fingers twirls in the air, trying to find his salient point, "suspended animation on Staten Island when you received critical injuries. I know you're capable of arresting time for a single individual as well, I just… there's no definition of how long you can maintain that effect."

Grimacing, Luis looks down to the floor, squeezing one hand in the other. "I'm afraid that locking Julie in stasis may be the only way to prevent the decline of her health…" Tired eyes square on Odessa's shoes. "Are those zebra-print?"

Odessa's heart sinks immediately. Of course it's Julie. Julie's well-being is the only thing that can whip Luis into a frenzy this way. "I… I don't know how I managed to… Self-preservation is funny like that," she admits a little helplessly. "But yes. I can… As long as I sit with her, I can…"

A look is cast down to her shoes. "N- No. It's just the light. And the… fabric drape. They're silv- This isn't important." The younger doctor lifts her head again, and drags her fingers through her snowy hair. "Take me to her. I may have some ideas."

Clearing his throat and offering an informed nod to Odessa's description of her shoes, Luis seems to briefly be lost in the discussion before shaking his head and easing away from the waste basket he'd been looming by. The old researcher heads diagonally across the hall, looking back briefly to Odessa to make sure she hadn't just gone and disappeared. He'd hate to look like he was talking to himself… more so than usual.

"My theory for what is happening requires a little bit of background exposition on her condition…" Stopping outside of the room, Luis peers through the open space inside, then turns around to face Odessa, his voice more quiet than earlier. "Julie was born a conjoined twin due to a birth defect brought on by their biological mother, who possessed a form of mitosis replication, whereupon she was capable of dividing into two individual halves of one self, then reuniting back into a whole."

Sliding his tongue across his lips, Luis looks down to the floor, then back up to Odessa. "Julie and her twin sister Liette were spared from death early in the pregnancy by way of their own ability, which they manifested in utero, one of only two documented cases I have ever heard of. They are capable of directly mimicking any SLC-expressive ability which directly affects their biological form. It's more complicated than just that, but…" Luis shakes one hand in the air, "for the sake of this discussion we'll leave it at that."

Gently pushing the door open, he begins to creep into the hospital room. "Julie and her sister were surgically separated by the Company, kept in isolated care. They share a sympathetic bond, by which they are able to remotely affect one another's very genetic makeup through some form of long-distance telepathic link. This allows them to share abilities between one another and manipulate their own DNA on the fly, like someone with a mosaic ability…" Someone like Peter.

As Luis edges into the room, it becomes clear why he's so distraught. Julie looks like a cancer patient prior to chemotheramy. Her body is sickly and thin, cheeks sunken in and dark circles around her eyes. A respirator mask covers her face, sweat glistens wet across her forehead. Luis looks away, down to the floor, and then up to Odessa. "When Julie and her sister came into our care, we discovered that if they were kept apart for long periods of time they would suffer from uncomfortable physical maladies. Tension headaches, increased blood pressure… mostly signs of physical stress. We know that their link is important, and more so that proximity is even more so."

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Luis shakes his head and walks to Julie's side, picking up one of her tiny hands from the bed, an IV tube taped to the back of her palm. "This barrier cuts off Julie and Liette's psychic link. It— effectively severs one from the other. If Julie is this sick… Liette likely is as well, and unfortunately we have no idea where Liette is…"

Footfalls on the tiled floor are enough to prove that Luis isn't alone, even though the look confirms it. Odessa isn't about to disappear in this situation, despite all that her file may say about her propensity to run at the first sign of trouble. It also probably says she has an unparalleled love for a good medical mystery, and trying to solve it.

"They… were under my care, briefly, while I was still very early in my career. They were still so little." So was she. Those footsteps, and her quiet conversation halt when she steps inside the room and sees the young girl's form. "Merde."

Odessa hurries forward, staring down at Julie, dismay etched into her features. She lifts a cloth from the girl's bedside and gently dabs at the sheen on her forehead. "Then Liette's sick, too," the woman surmises with a glance back to Luis for confirmation, or conjecture.

"I can only hope her captors know what to do with her…" The bitterness in Luis' tone about Liette's current predicament is clear, as clear as it is that Julie is dying. "I know you have other responsibilities, that the higher powers want you to locate the person that erected this fishbowl we're stuck in." Luis' mouth sags into a frown that drags creases down the sides of his mouth. "But if you could spare whatever time you have to watch over her…" Luis' eyes hood behind drooping lids. "We don't have much of a supply of Adynomine left here, and she'll need to be dosed before she's exposed to your ability or it will simply… not work. Julie reacts negatively to the suppressant drug, likely due to the harvesting process for the chemical…"

A dour expression stays locked on the old doctor's face as he walks around the foot of Julie's bed, brows furrowed and eyes fixed on his little girl. "I fear that if we don't find resolution to this crisis soon, no amount of dam stopping will prevent her passing. I— promised her that I would always keep her safe. I failed Liette," Luis admits with a crack in his voice, "I can't abide failing Julie too."

"I… I'll make a few phone calls. I'll see if I can…" Odessa's brows come together over the space between her eyes, outer edges angled downward. Apology. "I'm so sorry." Because it's perhaps obvious that she knows where or possibly how to find Liette. "I'm… I'll see if I can find out her condition. Give instructions on her care."

Before he can think about indulging in an outburst, Odessa's hands come up to placate. "Right now, I'll do what I can for Julie. I will keep her alive. I… care more about keeping her safe than I do playing attack dog for our employers." There's a small smile at that, an attempt to reassure. "But, before we resort to Adynomine… What about Amphodynamine?" Her lips purse, a direness to her expression.

"Negating her should be a last resort. And… If we… I could be capable of more. And what about Doctor Stevens? If we resort to negating her, couldn't he… rewind her to a healthier state before I… put her in stasis?" Describing how abilities work is an exercise in the use of absurd language.

"No," Luis flatly states, brows furrowed and expression grim. "I have strict orders not to expose you to Amphodynamine directly from Doctor Broome, and I intend to honor that request. Besides," and this seems more critical, "the strain on you to maintain a statis while Julie is reactively mimicing it is… it's not even a good short-term solution." Luis' eyes wander away from Julie's sleeping form, walking towards the one window that looks out over the western shores of Roosevelt Island, where the grimy barrier of the dome obfuscates the horizon like a dirty window.

"Julie can't benefit from Doctor Stevens' ability, either. Not… again, at any rate." Looking briefly to the side, as if considering turning around, Luis exhales a breathy sigh. "Did you…" Slowly, he turns, backlit by the morning light coming in through the window behind him, pale and cold, faintly tinged red. "Did you imply that you may know where Liette is?"

The gravity of Luis' voice has a low, baritone rumble to it.

Odessa is taken aback by how adamant Luis is. "What in the world do you people know about my ability that I don't?" she asks, lips formed a sort of confused pout. She's going to have to make a date with the big man if she wants answers, she imagines. …But stealing her file might not hurt in the interim.

Less scheming, more life saving, 'Dessy.

"Yeah," is offered honestly in response to Luis' query. "I did. I don't know where she is, but I know people who do. …I think. She's safe. Or she was the last time I saw her." Odessa grimaces faintly. "And that was before I came here. The people who have her care about her well-being."

"It is not where she belongs," Luis snaps, the venom in his voice a side of the normally reserved doctor that Odessa— nor many others on the medical staff— have ever had the misfortune to see. But Doctor Luis does not raise his voice, instead he sharpens in the way a knife would be. He points his words, lets them snap out from behind his teeth, quick and dangerous. "Julie and Liette have special medical needs. You cannot expect people who willingly live in squalor to be able to provide accurate medical care for her. Exposure to the wrong ability could be disastrous when it decays in her system and leaves her with a handicap. Permanent damage from improper exposure could be done."

Breathing in deeply, Luis' expression creases into a sharp frown. "But I think you and I can come to a mutual arrangement, perhaps…" Lifting his chin up, Luis approaches Odessa with eyes narrowed and his broad mouth dragged down into the expression of a dour toad. "I know that the Institute has classified files on you— research. I've only seen some of it myself, but I have access." One gray brow lifts, and Luis looks down to the bed, then back to Odessa.

"You want to know what we know about your ability that you don't?" Luis lets his head slowly cant to one side, a single brow raised. "If you can bring my Liette back to me, safe, once all of this is over…" He waves around the room in vague direction. "I'll see to it that you receive everything. Whatever it is that Doctor Broome has been keeping from you."

Odessa's mouth splits in a wide, toothy smile. "Everything?" Her head tilts slowly to one side, that grin becoming more lopsided as she bites down on her lower lip. "I want my files," she purrs, "and I want a supply - a substantial supply of H5-N10 vaccines. That should provide me with sufficient leverage."

A look is angled back toward Julie, before it moves back to her patron. Odessa's predatory posture softens some. "She needs her sister," she agrees. "She needs us." Her gaze narrows faintly. "You tell no one that I may know how to find Liette. If they know, they'll ruin it. Nobody else here cares about Liette's safety. They'll care about retaliation against the people who've been caring for her. That won't help me bring her back to you."

Luis isn't affronted by the notion of retaliation, not in the least. Though he is patient enough to allow for it to come to pass later rather than sooner. "I can't promise that the supply of vaccine will be timely, and I can't say how much I'll be able to get, but I'll try to find some that can go missing. I'll talk to Mister Lemay, he owes me a favor and his contacts within the CDC may be able to set up a requisition that you can… procure things from."

Turning to look over to Julie, Luis' expression softens, if only just so. "None of that will matter if she dies before this damnable dome is removed…" Luis stares, vacantly, at Julie for a long while, before speaking again in a croaking tone of voice. "Two doses of Adynomine, that's all we can give her. However long you can keep her in stasis should prolong the duration of the drug in her system. I'll… come up with a cocktail of drugs to mitigate the damage that Adynomine does to her nervous system." Pale eyes move from Julie to Odessa, and Luis' brows furrow.

"Thank you."

For all that Odessa actually wants to help Julie, and her sister as well, she doesn't want to let her concern show near as much now as she did before. Not now that she has something Doctor Luis wants, and he has something to give her for it in return.

But her shoulders sag and she embraces him, dropping a kiss on his cheek. "If I have to sit here day and night until the Dome comes down, I'll do it. I won't let her die. I promise."

Odessa just hopes it doesn't prove to be just another entry in the long list of lies she's told.

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