You Won't, But You Might


pride_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title You Won't, But You Might
Synopsis With the things you could do…
Date September 4, 2020

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

Richard Ray’s 11:30 meeting is perhaps not the most unusual, but there haven’t been too many unsolicited resumes sent direct to the CEO of Raytech. This one is one of the more impressive candidates to try and get their foot in the door without a direct referral in a long time. Or, so the people who understand these things better than he does tell him.

Sera deposits his interviewee at the door to his office. If she’s been her usual self, she hasn’t seemed to ruffle this potential candidate. A point in their favor, if ever there was one. And they were going to need all the points they could get, considering this interview was only granted because SESA insisted he give this candidate a fair shake, while refusing to provide insight as to why. (Beyond Nicole Miller’s very matter-of-fact — but good-natured — shut up and perform the interview.) Only an assurance that if they didn’t make the cut, that would be the end of it.

The door slides open to admit the candidate, who happens to be a tall, leggy blonde dressed in a shade of red that would make a fire engine jealous. A long-sleeved blouse with a draping neckline that dips clear to her waist, revealing a provocative-yet-tasteful amount of unblemished porcelain skin, tucks into a patent skirt with a zipper that runs down the entire length from waist to mid-thigh. The pull, a large ring. An O. Not, perhaps, what Richard envisioned someone with her credentials to look like.

The ostentatious ensemble almost distracts from the fact that she walks with a stick cane. The pommel has a polished crystal orb set into it. Eve Mas probably would have lauded it as a component in some sort of ritual. This, while fashionable, is not an accessory, but a necessary mobility aid. She wears a pair of flat black shoes that help with that stability, but also serve to highlight how tall she is without the aid of heels. Richard himself stands maybe only three inches taller. She’s adorned with no jewelry, save for a simple crystal stud in each ear and a silver chain that’s tucked itself into one side of her blouse.

“Mister Ray,” the well-groomed blonde greets. Her nude painted lips pull into a smile that reaches her pale blue-green eyes. Dark brows contrast with fair hair. Red eye shadow is a bold choice. Most people tend to look ill when they wear red around the eyes, but Dr. Pride, with the smoky line of kohl and dark mascara, simply looks like she’s painted her face for battle.

Because she seems aware that this interview is going to be a battle, and she’s going to have to fight tooth and nail in order to secure a seat at this table. “Thank you for meeting with me. I understand the recommendation I came with doesn’t carry as much weight here as it might with your competitors.”

She shakes her head, smile still fixed as she lifts her brows and adds, an aside, “I don’t want to work for your competitors.” Pride makes her way to the desk and stops there, shifting her cane from right to left. “Where are my manners? I’m Doctor Pride.” She holds out her hand toward him, a mischief glinting in her eye like someone might have dared her to attempt a handshake. “Ourania.

Well, that’s what the O on the resume stands for, then.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. You’ve quite the impressive reputation.”

As the door opens, Richard rises up to his feet to greet the candidate that's stepping into the office, one hand smoothing his suit jacket down. It's his usual company-matching ensemble of black with touches of red, including the tie in an even line down from his neck. The sunglasses are unusual, although anyone who's seen pictures of the CEO from the past year may have noticed that they never seem to come off for long.

Tech gossip on the internet suspects they may be some sort of slimline AR prototype or sophisticated HUD that will be announced 'any day now', although of course they aren't.

A single eyebrow goes upwards as she walks in dressed more like someone showing up to the sort of party that people with his wealth used to throw before the war than - as a random example - a scientist showing up to an interview. His lips purse briefly, but whatever gave him that reaction doesn't seem to be related to how she's dressed at all, since his eyes have dropped to her hand upon the cane at that point. His own is behind the desk, scuffed wolf's head just-showing over the edge of black glass.

Then they lift back up and he flashes a professional smile, reaching out to clasp the hand offered without hesitation. A firm clasp, brief but warm, callused skin not entirely the pattern one would expect from someone in his position. Releasing her hand, he sinks back into his chair, motioning for her to do the same across from him.

"The pleasure's mine as well, Doctor… Pride," he offers, something about the name causing a brief hesitation as if he'd just thought of something, "Please, take a load off, sit, sit. We don't get a lot of recommendations from the Agency, honestly, so while it might not carry weight— you have my curiosity."

Eyebrows go up, and his hands spread slightly, "So why do you want to work for Raytech, specifically?" His tone, casual. Behind those lenses, he's watching her like a hawk.

“Thank you.” The blonde pulls the seat just a smidge closer to the desk before she starts to sit, but discovers quickly her knees will collide with the furniture at that distance, so she nudges it back again as subtly as she can. Once settled in, she lets her cane rest against the seat and her leg, folding her hands in her lap.

“Nobody’s doing what Raytech’s doing.” The first of her reasons for seeking employment here, apparently. “Yamagato Industries plays at it, but they’re an American branch of a Japanese company. Their interest is their image, not truly in the betterment of New York City. Or the United States, to paint the larger picture.”

Pride smiles. “I don’t know what the SLC-Expressive Services Agency had to say about me, but I’ve been recently… displaced.” There’s a weight to that word, lines he’s meant to read between. The kind that are made by criss-crossing strings. “I’m hoping to find a fresh start here.”

But she won’t leave it at that. His question isn’t fully answered, is it? “My background, as I’m sure you’ve read, is biomedical. My passion is for bettering people’s lives. I think I’d be a good fit for your company. Your mission statement aligns with my own professional goals. And,” she adds, “I’m only looking for something part-time right now, so I’d only be in your hair two to three days a week.”

"You don't need to use euphemisms here, Doctor Pride…"

Richard's lips twist upwards into a crooked smile, admitting, "We deal with quite a few classified and otherwise secret projects here at Raytech, and if we started using euphemisms here we'd never get anything done. You can speak plainly regarding your background here… and you can pass on the buzzwords and saying what you think I want to hear, too." The final answer to his question was rather blithe, to the point, and utterly meaningless after all.

Then he's leaning back in the chair a bit, hands folding atop his chest as he considers her over the desk, "That is a rather unusual request though, we don't normally hire researchers part time unless they're contractors who'll only be here for the length of a single project."

"So why don't you tell me why I should entertain your employment specifically? What makes you such a catch that I should break from our usual hiring methods for you in particular?"

The woman smiles tightly. “Really? I’ve always had trouble with that portion of the interview process and I thought I was doing rather well there.” Dr. Pride’s posture relaxes. She leans back in her seat, draping her elbow over the back of it and fixing Richard with a calculating stare that feels familiar somehow.

“I’m the best at what I do. I’ve always been in high demand, and for the first time in my life, I’m calling my own shots and I’m choosing to knock on your door.” One corner of her mouth ticks up in a smirk, as though she’s just peeked at the cards in her hand and decided she likes her odds suddenly. “You asked me to speak plainly, and so I’ll be plain with you, Mr. Ray. I used to work for Arthur Petrelli. You want the wealth of information I hold.”

"As for the interview process, you'll find that I'm not exactly your traditional sort of employer, so the usual bullshit isn't necessary. Like you said, nobody else does what we do here, so we can't afford to drape everything in sixteen layers of nonsense just to feed the egos of the people up top," is Richard's reply to the first, and then his head is tipping a bit to one side, regarding her through those dark lenses of his in a difficult-to-read fashion, "But you have my attention now, Doctor Pride."

"So what was it that you did for… Mister Petrelli?" He very clearly had to bite his tongue to use the man's name and title rather than a pejorative. "What sort of skills and information are you bringing to the table?"

“Research and development, mostly.” Ourania smiles, pleased to have properly captured the attention of her prospective employer at last. “I understand he was a figure who was polarizing at best,” not in this timeline, “but Pinehearst was working on some amazing things. I expect Raytech would have much more noble goals.” Which isn’t a thinly veiled question or even an insinuation.

“I didn’t like the direction my career turned, Mr. Ray.” Let’s just put that out there right away to clear up any ambiguity. “But if I can take a fraction of what I learned in my time with Pinehearst and put it to use helping people as the main goal, instead of the byproduct of a man’s quest for unending power…”

The blonde holds one hand up in a placating sort of gesture. “But that tells you very little about my capabilities, only my motivations. Unfortunately, I have no physical research to bring to the table. I don’t have samples or notes — no formula — but I have memory. I have drive. And I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty for the greater good. I maybe don’t want to do this all day, every day like I used to, but I will put in the work.”

Confidence creeps its way into her posture and her expression. Maybe she can live up to the image she’s attempting to project with her attire. “Excusez mon français,” there’s no exaggerated American put on there, but a proper French accent that she slips right back out of as she continues again in English, “but I am very fucking smart. I am one of the best geneticists in the world. Perhaps the best one available to you, given Dr. Suresh appears to be off the radar again.”

Again. As though she knew he may have popped up recently. Given the man is supposed to have been in prison for years…

"It isn't a great secret that I have quite a few employees with a— checkered history, so to speak," admits Richard without shame or hesitance save in considering the proper phrasing of things, "While the Company and the Institute - amongst other organizations - ended up as overall threats to the people of the world, unlike some I don't tar individuals who worked under them with the same brush that I do their previous employers. What I wouldn't do to have recovered the Garden of Eden project from the Institute's ruins, for instance…"

He trails off, then waves it off with a motion of his hand, "Anyway. You may not have any specific information, but as much as Petrelli was a psychopath, he did have an eye for talent, so I'm willing to accept your own estimation of your skill. We all do miss Doctor Suresh around here, but I'm sure that wherever he is, he's still contributing as best he can to our knowledge of Evolved genetics."

"Our biotech division isn't our largest, nor our primary focus, but we do have a number of projects that I'm certain you could contribute to… I do have to ask why you're only asking for part time work, though? Most scientists of your caliber don't want to simply dabble."

“That’s a great question,” Ourania admits, clearly having been prepared to receive it. If not, perhaps, how exactly to answer it. Folding her hands together in her lap, she sits up straight again and looks down to the weave of her fingers for a moment.

“I’ve never had a choice before?” is what she says, uncertainty in her tone. Uncertainty about whether it’s the right answer or if it’s going to shoot her in the foot somehow. What she does know is that it’s the honest answer. “I was pushed into my field of study.” The blonde’s head lifts again to offer a mild smile across the desk. “I wanted to please, so I worked hard. I studied my skinny little butt off. I dove into it head first. I embraced it, because it’s what I knew. Didn’t question. Just… did.

The smile grows a little, but it’s bolstered by nerves rather than that earlier confidence. “So, when this whole displacement thing happened… I discovered I had a chance to start over. Reinvent myself.” The woman laughs, cheeks flushing with embarrassment. “I, ah… My full-time job is that I’m a pianist and a singer in a jazz club?”

Unlinking those fingers, she lifts one hand to drag it in her hair. “And I love it, actually. My whole job is to make people happy for about fifty minutes at a time. Take a break, come back out and do it again. Almost every night.” And he can see that she means that. There’s a pride — pun unintended — in her that seems to make her glow.

“But…” Because there would have to be a but in this situation, wouldn’t there? Or she wouldn’t be here. “I find I can’t stay away from the work. I feel some sort of moral obligation to use the knowledge in my head to do good things for people. After all the things that my work has been used for in the past… It’s the least I owe.”

Richard listens as she starts off, his head canted a little as he waits for her to figure out exactly how to phrase it - wondering just what it is, clearly, that has her so uncertain about admitting when she’s already said that she used to work for the most hatred megalomaniac in corporate history next to Pete Varlane.

Then she reveals the source of her embarrassment, and he actually laughs softly, nodding a bit. He brings one hand up, fingers raking back through his hair before motioning to her, “Well, I can’t judge you there— my wife’s a pianist herself, although she keeps feeling a pull to duty herself. Between the two of us, I think she’d be happier as a career musician, but I don’t think she could ever bring herself to do it.”

Of course, that’s just the sort of thing someone could have researched about him, isn’t it? If one was of a paranoid mindset, that is.

“Of course, even as a part-time employee, you would still be bound under noncompetition agreements and all of the usual paperwork,” he notes, “Not that I’m doubting what you’re saying, I just need to say these things. We’ve had some… issues with employee loyalty that we’ve had to deal with recently.” That last is said in a less pleased tone of voice, a flicker of something hard there in his tone.

“Of course,” she’s quick to assure with a short nod of her head. “I’m not shopping around. I’ve no intention of slinking off to one of your competitors with the promise of more money or… whatever.”

Ourania smiles faintly, a softer thing without the nerves behind it. “This is where I want to be. I’m just… not sure I’m ready to dive back in full-time. But I’ll give you what I’ve got. If that’s enough for you.”

"Genetics and biomedical development isn't our primary business, so I'm sure we can work something out there - I mean, we're doing some fascinating work with engineered algae and botanicals, not that I personally understand how any of it works," Richard chuckles, "But I'm sure that even part-time you could do some valuable work with us here. Of course, you'd need to work all those fine details out with the director of the Biological Technologies department here in the Safe Zone…"

The tips of his fingers drum against the arm of his chair for a moment, then a smile tugs up a bit at the corner of his mouth, "I'm sure that we can work an amenable schedule out, however, though, Doctor Pride."

There’s a relief there that’s palpable, overtaking whatever momentary concern there may have been about needing to coordinate with the director of Biological Technologies. (Who could that be? Would they like her? Would they agree to this arrangement? Or would they maybe resent being forced to accept a dabbler in their department?) None of it matters, since she seems to have secured the position.

Ourania thrusts her hand out across the desk with a bright eyed eagerness to seal the deal with a handshake. “Let’s do some good.”

Something gives Richard pause for a moment, and he brings one hand up to lower those shades; gaze dropping to her hand, then drifting back up to her face, considering her for a long moment before a smile widens back upon his lips once more. The glasses are pushed back up, hiding dark-as-midnight eyes once more even as he rises to his feet.

He leans forward and reaches out to clasp the offered hand firmly, if a bit belatedly, "Absolutely. At least so long as you don't change your mind about taking up a career in, oh, boxing or something."

She’s aware that there was just an appraisal that happened there, and she sits perfectly still for it. When he reciprocates the handshake, she believes that she’s passed whatever test that was meant to be, though her brows furrow in faint confusion. “I assure you,” she chuckles after they’ve released one another’s hands, withdrawing hers so she can lift her cane high enough to be seen over his desk, “I haven’t the footwork for that pursuit these days.”

The mobility aid is set back down with an audible click onto the hard floor. “When do I start?”

“You wouldn’t want to ruin that pretty face anyway,” Richard quips, but he’s watching her altogether too closely - and it almost seemed like there was another word that almost replaced ‘anyway’, before he changed it at the last minute.

“I’ll get you set up with all the paperwork and such, so probably— soon? Honestly I don’t handle that sort of thing, but I think ‘soon’ is a good estimation,” he chuckles, straightening back behind the desk, “I assume all your contact information is accurate on your resume?”

The compliment is accepted with a smile, but there’s also something guarded in her expression that follows. “I promise, I am far more than just a pretty face.” Spoken like a woman who’s used to being called sweetheart and honey in place of doctor.

She’s content to let the moment pass, to shrug off whatever slight she may have perceived. “Yes. It’s all current. I can start whenever you’re ready to have me.” Now she rises to her feet and starts to gather her things. “I look forward to it.”

“Good. Because I’m not hiring a pretty face, I’m hiring a geneticist,” says Richard rather firmly, “I’ll have all the hiring paperwork sent over for you to review, and then you can get all of that worked out with HR and your new Director.”

A smile, then, eyebrows lifting, “And I hope that we’ll see some amazing results from your work with us, Doctor Pride.”

“You won’t be disappointed, Mr. Ray.”

Several hours later, an image is sent to him by his security team. An unrelated issue of someone unknown having visited his sister two days ago. A grainy photo from outside of the Benchmark shows the blonde he’s just agreed to hire coming out of the building.

Richard leans back in his chair, regarding the image displayed on his desk, and breathes out something half a laugh, half a sigh.

"Odessa, why are you so bad at aliases?"

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