Year Of The Rabbit


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Scene Title Year of the Rabbit
Synopsis The forecast for the coming year may not be as temperate as the rabbit leads one to believe.
Date February 3, 2011

Cong Medical Clinic

Tucked in a sidestreet of Chinatown, the presence of the clinic is somewhat deceiving in that it possesses an old shopfront as the entrance instead of the usual single door. The large, single window is blocked from the sidewalk by white blinds, and the lettering emblazoned upon it reads the name of the clinic in Mandarin Chinese and English text; Doctor Cong's name is written below in a similar fashion, and below it is the Rod of Asclepius.

Inside, the front room is the waiting room, with a row of chairs along the sides, all of which more or less face the nurse's station behind a low wall and a windowpane. The trained eye will recognize it as very high-grade bulletproof glass.

To the side of the nurse's station is a hallway; there are two smaller exam rooms on the right, and a larger one that includes more major equipment on the left. Further down on the left is a locked door, only accessible by the doctor or his aides that leads into the fineries and inner workings of the office; important files, equipment, a small clinic lab, et cetera. At the very end of the hall is a heavy, often locked door, which opens to an elevator-sized room with three exits. One is a plain staircase leading up, and parallel to this is a inconspicuous door that leads to a staircase aiming downward. At the bottom is another door that looks like something straight out of a high-tech bank vault, though considerably more intimidating. Unless you are supposed to, you will not get in.

As for the door straight ahead of the main hall in the clinic, the heavy door leads into Doctor Cong's personal office. It is a rather picture-perfect physician's office, complete with a hardwood desk in front of a duo of chairs, framed documents, a large bookshelf, and only one window that offers a view out into another Chinatown alley.

Since the winter of 2009 it has been boarded and locked up.

The celebrations of the Lunar New Year have been leading up through the week until the actual date; Chinatown has gone from the usual winter gray and brown- into red, gold, and the white of what snow has left itself tucked into the corners and crevices of the buildings and sidewalks. Stores and restaurants are bejeweled little things, the street lights and posts twined with threads and hanging tassels, lanterns, and ribbons that periodically break free. It is the year of the rabbit- or the cat, depending where you are from- and though curfew and law has set up some manner of stopper to too much celebrating, Chinatown makes do with what it has.

People in red, children buying paper toys, drinking parents, lions and dogs and camel-faced dragons with long fringes of white beard- they add up over the course of the day, and though they leave more than enough of a mark, it will be steadily cleaned up over the weekend. For the time being, however, the neighborhood is dressed to the nines, streets clear for people, merchants out with stalls, the smells of food, the twinkling music, and at some point, surely, someone is going to have bunnies out.

For what it is worth, dragons tend to get along with rabbits. Whether or not Bao-Wei does is another story. He wouldn't be able to go even as a man at this point, and has had to avoid the main strip for safety. That doesn't mean he doesn't walk around under it for a while, listening in and even sneaking a grab at a sodden paper kite that washes down one of the drains. He carries it with him for a while, something thin and delicate pinned between claws as he comes around to where the back of his clinic met an alleyway. It doesn't last much longer, brittle when it freezes, flaking apart in his palm.

The scrape of the manhole won't be heard over the music. Bao-Wei can only hope that nobody sees him now, as he squeezes himself together and spills out onto the back of the alleyway in a serpentine twist of ice. By now everyone here has heard something about what happened. Most of it guessing games, rumors. When his golden eye swivels around in a socket to look, Cong fully expects the old lady peeking back at him to say something, and he pauses there to stare back, a statuette in the vague shape of the spangled creature winding its way down the street on her other side. When she simply turns around to go about her business, Cong cannot bust into his back entrance quickly enough for his own tastes.

The crack is loud, though presumably nobody is actually in here to hear it. Moving around in the clinic is suddenly awkward, even while he mashes the door back into its frame, crusting it over so that it sticks. In front of him, the concrete floor of a back hall- a door to the basement, the door to his office. Bao-Wei stays still for a time, there, considering the door to his old office before lifting a limb to snag it open. He spills into it too, a crackle and snap of ice, spiny serpent's back curling up as he comes into quadrupedal feet.

The sounds of the celebrating leak in through the various holes and crannies of the boarded up clinic. It has been a long time since the good Doctor returned to his clinic. Even longer since he made major decisions in this very office that would affect hundreds of lives as the years passed. The order and chaos of the city fight daily, whether it be in the form of a government soldier chasing a ferryman operative or a police offficer chasing down a member of the Triad. The fight for New York City's soul rages on. And whether he knew it or not, a few years ago Bao-Wei pushed a certain soldier of fate.

"You never thought much of me." The voice comes from the darkness of the dimly lit clinic. Light clapping of black shoes sounds out against the ground off the worn down building. A figure approaching. The accent is lightly Chinese, but not overwhelming. "You wanted to kill me the first day we met. I thought I could prove myself to you, once I broke into the Pentagon. Or when I killed your long time boss and friend." Bao-wei can practically hear the smile through the man's voice. Loafers emerge into the dimly lit room as the man slowly ffades out of the darkness.

Dong-tian is dressed as splendidly as ever. Glancing up at the larger man, he smirks lightly. "I finally learned something Doctor Cong. Your respect is not passed on easily. It is something I may never earn. But I realize also that while you may hate me, you are a very intelligent man. And if the best route is available, you will take it." Dong-tian glances at the man, smirk sliding into a broad, toothy grin.

"I have something you want."

A moment quiet gave Bao-Wei enough time to lift himself upright again, his form grinding back into something more resembling a man's shape. It resembles him, too, in the face, save for the ridges along where bone would lie, and a severe lack of detail on his humanoid frame, a cold center in the old office, now cleaned out save for a dead plant and an empty filing cabinet, its drawers in various states of expulsion. Nothing of note, until Dong-Tian speaks from the open frame of the door that connects to the outside hall.

Doctor Cong finds himself lurking off to the side, brushing past the potted stump and leaving it in an even worse, icy state. He listens, and watches, with only the faintly luminous color of his eye to give him away, as apart from the shadows that pine through the mostly colorless ice. He has been intelligent enough to form theories about this meeting, about what few words had been passed between them before now. It comes as no shock, this outcome. There are certain things that so few people know- even fewer to be recalled in such exactness as to allude them while talking about something else.

Even long after Dong-Tian finishes speaking, Bao-Wei does not; his eye remains fixed, breathing nonexistent, the only shift or noise coming when he does finally unhinge his jaw.

"What, praytell, would it be that I want?" From you, no less. It goes unsaid, but it is there, somehow, mixed in with the grating, hollow sound of his voice.

"You started everything when you killed him. But killing you now would do nothing, unfortunately, and perhaps that is exactly why you may deserve the same respect I afford my usual rivals. Because you are obviously not as stupid as you look."

"Thank you." The man smiles lightly at how he doesn't look that stupid. "Years of sacrifice. I learned Chinese. I changed my face. I changed everything." Dong-tian glances up to his face before dropping his hand. "All the work I have done has been for one goal.. And that goal is no longer possible." The Ghost Shadow Enforcer glances around the room.

"A great way to ring in the New Year…" He starts quietly before speaking up. "I am offering you what is yours. I won't pretend to know what you want anymore. What you are like. But I will assume you want some kind of… normalcy of your old life back. I want to return your old position. The old respect you had in Chinatown. I want to return that to you."

"Am I right, or am I being presumptious again? Or are you happy skulking in the sewers? You may be. But.." Dong-tian shakes his head. "The Ghost Shadow employ many evolved. They are respected with our people." Our people. "With our reputations combined, the Ghost Shadow would quake at our mere sigh."

"Normalcy is for those that can afford to be normal." A measure of bitterness bleeds through his voice, despite it's origin from the golem. The shine of his eye fades, a shadow crossing over it. A film of lid that is not actually a part of him. Simply another sliver of ice. "There is some peace to be found when one cannot be a part of society, I assure you of that much. Not to mention the freedom that I have been allotted by default. I am no longer a part of the system. I have no dues." Except, perhaps, to those that have been gone.

"I still have respect here. If I didn't, this building would no longer be here, my memory would be tarnished, my old reputation befouled… but no. Even as I came inside, an old woman saw me. I'd treated her for near thirty years. She did not say a word." According to Bao-Wei Cong, if that is not respect- well- it sure fooled him.

"Song and Liu are dead." A rattle intakes through slivers under his sides, leaving his jaw in a puff of white. "I have seen my better years come and go. My lack of being here has not changed much. I have seen wondrous things, and I have met those like me while I have been gone. Then again, this-" A claw unfurls to gesture at himself.

"-also happened. Many would think that my prime is behind me. So what makes you imagine otherwise? I should like you to be more clear about your intent. Stop being vague with me. I may have time, but I am as surly as I ever was, when boys yank my chains."

"I want to control the Ghost Shadow." Dong-tian murmurs, glancing up to Bao-wei. Straight to the point, once again. "With you. It is not an impossibility. There are certain.. Obstacles. That could be easily remedied. I am in position that if a certain few.. undesirables met an untimely end, I could take control." The man takes a few steps around the perimeter of the office. Smirking lightly at the events that unfolded about two years ago.

"With your help. We could take down the Ghost Shadow. And own Chinatown." The biu xu looks up at Bao-wei, dipping his chin. "I have been working for this for years. I have sacrificed much. I do not think I could complete the task without you. But with you…"

"Take your rightful position. Open up this clinic. Or reside in the comfort of your obscurity. Whatever you wish. As my partner it will be honored." The man smiles lightly. Looking up at the other man.

"Even if I wanted to go back to this clinic, I could not. Even now I'm forcing this ability to not freeze you to death. It consumes me constantly, from the inside out. My surface temperature is the same as Jupiter's atmosphere." The king of the gods, however fitting, does not make for a good summer vacation. Bao-Wei tilts his head away, seeming more grinding by the minute. Some things are never easy to talk about, no matter how obvious.

"I cannot touch flesh, much less treat it." The golem gives off a snort, only visible in the stream of fog. "I can only turn back for short periods. never more than a couple of hours.

"I feel enough kinship to the task to want to help you. They know I am not gone now. But with being beside you I may run the risk of catching undue attention as well. My employers since leaving here are not exactly kind to experiments gone awry. I think they have only let me be for so long because I have done nothing to warrant myself a threat." But even so, this is the Triads- would it be waved off as gang activity, outside of purview? No way to know.

"There is something more colossal happening in this city. Bigger than you or me. Bigger than your employers, than the Triad." Dong-tian waves a dismissive hand. "Controlling the Ghost Shadow would be a beneficial step into ensuring the outcome of this battle is… favorable." Dong-tian takes a few steps into the offfice, going to lean against a wall. Where two years ago he threatened and bargained with the good doctor. "Thank you, byt the way." For not freezing him, presumably.

"I will be attempting to wrench control ffrom the Ghost Shadow with or without you. But with you. I have no doubt of our success." Dong-tian clasps his hands behind his back. "I will wait patiently for your decision."

"I will do you more good as a force, and an advisor. I can help you do what you need to do, and after, little more than to proffer my decades of wisdom for you to use- unless there comes a time that I can be there in tandem." Bao-Wei makes no illusion that he would not be an excellent boss. But he has grown to like his freedom, and grown used to his inability to be a part of the world proper. He can't just be expected to leap back in. The claws at his sides tick together in a few moments of thought.

"Don't mistake my willingness for fondness, is all that I ask. I will never actually like you, but I have worked with those I have hated more without too much incident."

"I know." Dong-tian lets out quietly. Taking a step towards the far wall. A hand claws along it slowly, gathering dust. "You know.. Not many have put two and two together." He grins a little, lowering his head for a moment. "All they had to do was look up a little Chinese." He steps back towards the door. Glancing over his shoulder. "There is much in a name." Dong-tian. Xue. The twins. "I'll be in touch~"

The man turns the corner, stepping out of the office. The last time he had stepped foot in that office, he had looked, sounded, and acted, dramatically different. He was not known as Dong-tian. But the name wasn't far off.

It translates to 'winter'.


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