“Come in.” Hana said. It was a little early but she was fairly certain she knew who her visitor was.
“Good afternoon Dr. Lizborne.”
He looked younger than she’d expected. Odd. She knew he was only nineteen but… He had his blond hair slicked back, sunglasses and a button down shirt. The whole effect was something like a boy trying to dress like a man. The expression of earnest courtesy didn’t help that.
“Please, have a seat Operative Jason.” she gestured to one of her chairs.
She’d picked them especially so they’d seem comfortable at first but get less so the longer you sat in them. Hana’s job meant she had to have patients and colleagues in frequently but that didn’t mean she had to encourage them to linger.
“And call me Hana.”
“Thank you. Jason is sufficient. I am currently… off duty.”
“I understand you’ve spent quite a bit of time here, visiting patients as well as speaking with some of our participants?” He gave a token smile and nodded. “Do you mind if I ask why?”
Jason didn’t answer at first. It looked like he was giving her question real thought.
“I suppose… I suppose that I find it easy to see myself in some of their cases. My own power came with… side effects that you could call unfortunate. I have learned to live with them, even found benefit in one particular case, but I would be lying if I did not say that I have not wished to be without them on occasion.”
“Mhm. I see.” She gave him a smile of her own, made sure it was as warm as she could make it. “Regardless, I want to thank you for that. Not everyone can just… just spend time with our participants like you have. From what I’ve read, and from what a few of them have told me this morning, seeing such obvious interest coming from a Citadel operative has made a real difference to more than one of them.”
Hard to tell with the glasses but she thought he might be staring at her face now.
“It has been my pleasure.” he said, sounding maybe a little distracted.
She sighed, knowing the trend of his next statement from long experience. “Let me just get this out of the way. Yes, I’m half Japanese on my father’s side. Yes, the Empire is a wonderful place to live if you’re on the government’s good side and no, I’m not willing to say why he left beyond telling you that the government’s good side is a remarkably narrow environment.” She kept her tone wry rather than bitter or offended. He hadn’t actually done anything inappropriate, just looked at her like he might have been a bit curious.
“I- Actually, I was simply thinking that I had never met anyone of Asian descent with blonde hair before. I was curious whether it was dyed or related to your Empowerment.”
“Ah, sorry.” Woops, foot in mouth disease struck again. “How did you know…?
“Dr. Heton told me that all of the personnel involved in your study were Empowered, that it was the norm in academic research.”
“Oh. Well, he’s a bit of an optimist I suppose. It really is the ideal when it comes to research, but it’s not always practical.” She reached up, ran her fingers through her hair. Where they passed, it went from course and blonde to thin and black.
“As it happens, I am Empowered and so are most of our main staff. But a lot of the hospital personnel that we work with, nurses, orderlies and lab techs, aren’t. It just means that we’ll have to have any significant findings verified by an independent lab that’s staffed entirely by Empowered before we publish anything. It’s pretty standard, less of a hindrance than you’d expect.”
“So you are a shapeshifter?”
She shook her head. “Just my hair I’m afraid. It saves me a trip to the stylist every week but that’s about my limit. I used to go anyway and get my nails done with a friend, back in my college days.” Hana smiled, remembering. It had been too long since she’d called Tiff. She should get back in touch. “So, what is it that’s had you calling for an appointment at least twice a day for the last week?”
If he was at all uncomfortable he gave no sign of it.
“It is about one of your participants being treated on an inpatient basis.”
Ah. “You mean B.”
“Yes. I believe I can help him.” She nodded.
It hadn’t exactly been a secret but she was still glad to get it confirmed.
“You mean you can kill him.”
Hana was quiet for a moment.
“I’m going to tell you two things. First, I have a new test planned that involves B this evening. It won’t… it probably won’t do anything to help him. But it might do something to help the next person we encounter with a similar issue.” She waited for him to nod before she continued.
“Second, while I hold power of attorney for B, it is illegal for a medical professional to directly cause the death of their patient. The limit of our ability to act in such cases is the suspension of life support or removal of feeding tubes. We can allow them to die but not assist them, understand?” Again, he nodded.
“That said, in cases of chronic pain with no hope of recovery or even improvement, things happen. Medical practice is never perfect and incidences of overdose or the application of drugs with unfortunate side effects do happen. Sometimes, they even lead to a peaceful, though entirely accidental, death.”
His next words were spoken slowly, with great care. “I believe I see what you mean.”
“Good, then I’ll make an appointment for you to visit B tomorrow morning, shall I?”
Hector suppressed a sigh of frustration. Jason had been doing so well, even with his loss of control against Taker. From a certain point of view, that had actually been a good sign. Then… then he’d done that to the Monster copycat and now he had some weird fixation thing going on with Jenny.
“Jason, I’ve told you, she’s fine! She never had more than a few cuts and some bruises and those are long since Healed.”
“I am not concerned with her physical injuries.” Jason said. He’d been… better, at least for a while. His latest trip to the hospital seemed to have put him in a good mood. Then he’d sat down to watch his required hour of TV and an interview with Jenny had popped up on the news.
“Look, you can see for yourself. If fighting Monster left her with any- any psychological issues or something, they’ve gotta be pretty minimal. You’ve talked to her on the phone and the com since then, hell, so have I. I didn’t notice anything wrong.”
Jason didn’t answer.
Hector really hoped that Support would get off its ass soon. Delaying when they thought Monster was in town was one thing, no one wanted to send an Empowered asset with emotional manipulating abilities anywhere near that guy, but Jason obviously needed that therapist.