Conversations on money, doing good, as well as calculus and other forms of torture
<HFC> Bishop's Salon - Hfc Second Floor
One of half dozen such rooms at the club, this is an intimate parlor where one might take luncheon, tea, or brandy and cigars after supper. Each is sumptuously appointed in the theme of a chess piece--the Bishop in this case. For all that, the decor is fairly light on actual Christian symbolism. Aside from the Paradise Lost triptych over the mantle, an illuminated manuscript on its own pedestal in one corner, and an ornate gold monstrance (absent the host) mounted above the door, the paraphernalia on the shelves and walls mostly relate to general Medieval scholarship and scrivening.
Afternoon in the Bishop's Salon casts delicate beams of light into the room, warming the dark woods and glinting off of the gold leaf of the illuminations on the walls, despite the grey skies and gusts of wind outside. As if in deference to the atmosphere outside, however, the lights of the room are dimmed at the edges, making the center of the room seem cosier.
It is in one of the chairs in the center of the room that Iolaus has been sitting, one leg crossed over the other, partially covering one of the light red stripes on his grey herringbone suit. After taking a small sip of the bourbon in one hand, he nods and leans back in the chair. "All things being said, we've been holding our own against the flood of patients better than I would have expected. I'm sure that's no comfort at all to those people who have been waiting for an appointment for a month, but considering the last six months, I'm just happy that we've not lost too many staff to burnout." He shakes his head once, giving the man across from him a quick, sad smile. "Not none, though, I'm afraid. How have you been holding up, Kyinha?"
Kyinha is draped in his own chair, white suit striking against his brown skin, likewise the intense turquoise of his vest and tie. He looks tired but considerably less sickly than he has in the darker months preceding. Though wan, he's stunningly attractive by at least some human standards until he reverts to his uncanny state of fire and darkness -- probably sometime in the very near future. "I am not doing so badly, but winter is always difficult when I do not go back home." He gestures mild dismissiveness. "You think you and your staff will be able to, as you say, expand the capacity? I know it is much more complicated, but this will mean the patients have less of a wait, yes?"
Making an empathetic hum, Iolaus nods to the other man, eyes flicking over him assessingly. "The darkness of winter always gets to me by the end. Not the same, certainly, but... I'm also eager for the spring. I'm glad you're feeling better, Kyinha." Idly, Iolaus swirls his glass, eyes flicking down to watch the amber liquid spin around the midpoint of the glass, quiet for several seconds, thinking. "With the money you donated today, we'll be able to expand and start cutting down that waiting list, no question." Iolaus says, finally, voice confident, sky-bright eyes meeting Kyinha's. "Finding the right staff may take some time, but I have a couple of leads on social workers that we were hoping to poach from NYU Langone that we'll go after now. That's where we've been hurting the most, anyway. And I've been tossing around some other, more dramatic ideas for expansion." He waves the glass in a lazy, dismissive gesture. "Nothing concrete, yet. Ideas, in their ill-formed and wild nature."
"This is better, now, than when I was younger. Turning the fire on and off for days to start and end every summer..." Kyinha tsks. "Not safe or pleasant. But -- forgive me if the question is foolish --" He picks up his brandy and indicates Iolaus with it. "Is it difficult for you to find staff because expertise in us is not so common? Or is it just unpopular, in general?"
A knock at the salon's door admits an unobtrusive server who sets down two gleaming dessert-sized cloches, one by each of the men, before withdrawing. Kyinha lifts the mirrored dome covering his playe to find -- to his pleasure and surprise -- an elegant bowl of cupuaçú ice cream. "Someone is looking out for us."
Nodding sympathetically, Iolaus winces along with Kyinha’s story, and then again at his question. As the server arrives, though, Iolaus takes the time to reveal his own treat from beneath its covering. “Lemon ice, ahh.” The doctor sighs happily, picking up a spoon and taking a taste. “Sends me right back to childhood, for better and worse.”
Still, dissembling can only last so long. Iolaus places the spoon down for a moment, looking at the other man seriously. “Experience is a great benefit, of course, and we strive to find those with practical experience first. But… I’m afraid the problem is more basic. Most often, it’s not finding staff who are willing to treat mutants — that is, thankfully, not a tremendous barrier.” Leaning forward, Iolaus gestures once in the air, a meaningless swirl of a hand. “People are afraid that Mendel being on their resume means that no one else will hire them ever again. Not discriminating directly, just not willing to put their own skin in the game.”
"I admit, it surprises me there is not more trouble with people wanting to work with us." Kyinha seems to address this to his desert. "The first time I went to hospital in my other form? I hurt people, it was bad. I guess this is not most mutant patients, but you say they do not discriminate -- directly. Are your prospective employees so very much more enlightened and tolerant than those who would blacklist your former employees? Can other employers be more afraid of even second-hand association with us while the providers think nothing of laying their hands on us, day in and day out?" His tongue makes a quiet click and he shakes his head. "No. This, I do not believe." It doesn't stop him from enjoying his ice cream, though.
The laugh Iolaus makes is not a nice sound, not something from a place of happiness. "No, no," Iolaus says, after picking up a spoon and eating another scoop of the citrus-ice. "Not that physicians are better educated or less discriminatory. Most people hiring doctors are, after all, other healthcare workers or administrators -- the ones who would be reading the resumes. No, it's merely that the people who would flatly discriminate against mutants don't even bother to return our emails." The look on Iolaus' face is wry, and he shrugs his shoulders, spreading his hands out in a quick gesture. "Which is probably for the best. Doesn't consume much of our time in attempting to recruit them if they won't even speak to us."
Kyinha frowns, but gives a slow nod. "I see. So it is discrimination, in the end." He runs his spoon along the edges of his ice cream where it's melting into the fine china bowl. "If only we had more doctors of our own kind." It sounds like an idle musing, but there's sorrow in his downcast eyes. "It is important, what you do, but there is always so much more to every single problem than what we see of it." And a beat later, "Than what I see of it. The most brilliant physician I know -- no offense to you, of course -- has been rejected by universities and hospitals alike for how he looks, while you must incentivize your prospective hirees to risk their future prospects. And those are the tolerant ones?" He picks his brandy back up for a long pull. "It is more obvious when they are shooting us, but in this, too, your people are trying to kill mine off."
"Oppression comes in many forms. Just because some are not openly violent doesn't mean they can't be equally harmful." Iolaus looks down into his slushy dessert and takes another few bites, lips scraping the spoon clean with each pass. "Subtly just means it can be harder to counteract. It is something that one must actively strive to overcome, but..." Iolaus shakes his head, scraping the last bits of lemon ice out of his dish with a delicate movement of his spoon and swallowing it. "We must. It is right, and all other choices wrong." Taking a long breath, Iolaus pauses for a moment, as if letting the word echo around the room.
"I don't suppose that doctor is looking for work? We are, after all, hiring."
"He has a job..." Kyinha frowns down into his dessert. Savors another bite as he considers. "But, I will let him know. I am glad men like you do this work, and I am glad to help you do it, but there is so much that money cannot solve. Though...perhaps there is more to be done about this." His fine black brows lift up. "I will see if I can't expand your future hiring pool."
Iolaus' face brightens, and he flashes a warm smile at the other man, even as he sets down the spoon and covers the empty dish with the cloche once more. "Thank you, Kyinha. Though money certainly can't solve everything, without it, people like me wouldn't be able to do anything to help. Don't sell the good that you do short." The older man laces his fingers together and leans slightly forward, elbows resting on his knees. "Money or otherwise."
Kyinha polishes off his ice cream, too. Picks up his brandy. "Oh, plenty of my students would argue against calling my work 'doing good'." He quirks a sharp smile. "Especially the ones I teach math! But...maybe I can smooth the way for those of my people who want to pursue a career in medicine. I'll need to talk to someone who knows a lot more about scholarships." He salutes Iolaus with his brandy. "I'll let you know what comes of it."
This time, Iolaus' laugh is quite happy, grin splitting his face. "Yes, well, I have to confess to feeling similar when I was their age. I was firmly convinced that calculus was invented solely to torture me; some grand mathematical oubliette devised by an inhuman monster named Leibniz." Picking up his bourbon, Iolaus returns the salute, a playful wink following it. "I got over it. Eventually."
"Plenty of people share that opinion," Kyinha admits easily. "I cannot understand it but I accept that most people just genuinely don't find integration fun and relaxing." He gives a noncommittal shrug. "You got over it for your graduate studies? Or did you realize it was actually fun and relaxing?"
"I didn't use it that much in grad school, actually. Statistics, plenty, but not calculus." Iolaus runs a hand through his hair, taking another sip of his drink and replacing it on the table. "But I think that's mostly because I started using math in directly applied ways, rather than as theoretical concepts. It was a lot easier for me to see why it was important when I needed it as a tool to solve something, not just... a skill I might one day need. I imagine your lessons do better at the practicality than my professors' did."
Kyinha laughs. "I know I am the one who brought up teaching, and I love it so very much, but I wouldn't boast of any particular skill in it." He drains his brandy and sets the snifter down. "I have another meeting to get to soon, but we'll probably see each other around before our next check-in." He rises, buttoning his jacket. "I do hope you have a good afternoon, and weekend!"
"Oh-- of course." Iolaus stands, politely, when Kyinha does, hands brushing invisible dust off of his legs. "The pleasure is all mine, Kyinha. Thank you, again; we will be able to treat many more people thanks to your donation. I'll follow up with your office in a month or two with an update on how it is being used." Iolaus reaches his hand out for the other man's, a polite smile on his face. "A pleasure and an honor as always."