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Latest revision as of 22:54, 8 June 2019

On Getting Shot (at)
Dramatis Personae

Iolaus, Ted

2019-06-08


Iolaus and Ted meet and compare war wounds

Location

<NYC> NYU Stern School of Business


The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, embedded in the business school that counts some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, is certainly no stranger to the limelight. Still, when it agreed to hold a moderated panel discussion on the use of mutant-produced pharmaceuticals, it perhaps slightly underestimated the amount of attention that the policy-focused, staid discussion would attract from the general populous.

Still, with only some last-minute requests to NYU's Department of Public Safety for extra staff to help keep the protesters off the private property and on the sidewalk (coincidentally as far away from the school as legally permissible), the event had gone off without too many bumps in the road, ending promptly at 3pm just as advertised. The discussion between the panel members got heated at times, but all in all, it remained peaceful, the only casualties inside the building being some bruised egos.

Of course, as always happens, the debate is not finished merely because the gavel has struck the dais and the event has officially ended. Little clusters of students and visitors gather around several of the panel members, variously agreeing with them and casting aspersions on the other speakers. One of these, however, has no such supportive audience. Dressed in a steel blue suit with a tie and shirt of increasingly light shades, Iolaus (or, as introduced by the moderator, Dr. Saavedro) has only a single person accompanying him who is certainly not stooping so low as to have a conversation with him. By the expression on the man's face, this whole event -- and everyone associated with it -- is too far beneath him to even speak about.

Honestly, the only thing Ted knows about pharmaceuticals, whether mutant or otherwise, is how to obtain some of the more unofficial "prescriptions" for them around campus. But he saw a flier about this debate at the NYU-X offices, and he had some free time this afternoon, so he decided to check it out.

Now, after listening to very knowledgable people eruditely discussing some of the most fundamental questions facing the pharmaceutical industry today, Ted knows pretty much exactly what he entered the room knowing... he barely understood a word anyone was saying. Still, he understood enough to know they were talking about commoditizing drugs that mutants naturally produce, which intrigued him.

So he gathered up his courage and approached Dr. Saavedro after the event, startled to find no competitors for the man's attention. "Um... hi," he greets awkwardly, the prototypical image of a shy college freshman feeling out of place. "So, um... are there a lot of mutants who naturally produce, um, pharmaceutical products?"

Glancing up from the floor at the student in front of him, Iolaus blinks several times before a smile spreads across his face. "I've only met one who does it on their own, but there are many abilities that could be used to help make all kinds of medicine better for all of us." The professor hesitates for a second and then presses on. "It's like I was saying -- we have to be careful with how we approach it. On the one hand, it's malpractice to simply wave off the potential benefits. But there are ethical problems, too, with doing so -- after all, we don't want another Henrietta Lacks!"

Pausing, Iolaus examines Ted's expression for several seconds. "Sorry, I'm used to teaching postgrads. Henrietta Lacks was a patient in the 1950s whose cervical cancer cells were commercialized without her knowledge, consent, or reimbursement. She died without ever knowing about it, and her cells are still used today."

Ted stands there dully for a moment, wondering if he's supposed to have any idea who Henrietta Lacks is, or was. The feeling of not having done the reading is one he's become accustomed to over the course of his first year of college, but it still doesn't feel good.

Fortunately, the professor addresses his ignorance before he's forced to admit to it. "Oh, I see. So, like, you don't want to use people's abilities without paying them and stuff. That makes sense." More than that, it inspires a mental connection that Ted hadn't quite made during the debate itself, and without thinking about it he asks "I guess it's like that for all kinds of mutants, right? I mean, like, if they can heal injuries or fly or get really strong or whatever, scientists would want to study them and figure out how to, you know, reproduce it in the lab and sell it and stuff."

He says this with the air of someone who is only just realizing that this is a possibility, despite having just sat through an advanced discussion of precisely this issue. In his defense, though, at least he seems to be taking the question seriously. "So..." he continues more anxiously, "I mean, are scientists doing that now?"

"Exactly. There are some mutants who don't seem to age, some who can heal from injuries that would kill the strongest and healthiest person, some who never get sick..." Iolaus trails off, then shakes his head. "Yet it's also almost impossible for them to get help when they do get sick, for all of those mutants whose mutations don't keep them young, healthy, because of idiotic fear and discrimination."

Hand gesticulating in the air, Iolaus' voice grows in volume as he dives deeper into the conversation, passion and disgust filling the words. "The only people who would be experimenting on the unwilling aren't scientists. If there are people doing that, they are gave up their humanity far more than any mutants did. It goes against everything that medicine stands for, going back thousands of years. ἢ μὴ βλάπτειν - to do no harm." The doctor's eyes flash, anger in them, but the wave of emotion fades as quickly as it rose. "I don't know. Rumors, but very little evidence." Iolaus' smile is wry. "And the word of mutants is little worse than the word of a doctor who treats them."

Iolaus' excitement is contagious, and Ted is nodding emphatically by the time the doctor reaches his peak of intensity... but unlike the older man, his intensity doesn't fade. "'Experimenting on unwilling'," he echoes... "I mean, it's kind of like what the Nazis did during World War II, right?" The Greek is Greek to him, but he recognizes the Hypocratic Oath from a movie he once saw.

It takes him a few beats to work out the meaning of that last comment, but when he does, he finally makes the connection between Iolaus, the Mendel Clinic whose name appeared all over the announcements for this event, and the building Ted had been talking to posters in front of last weekend. "Oh!" he blurts out, "you work there!" He frowns in thought, then fumblingly pulls out his phone to show the picture of Ben he's been showing around the Lower East Side ever since the vigil. "If you don't mind my asking... did you happen to know Ben Wells? I mean, I know, doctor confidentiality and stuff, but I've been trying to find out what happened to him."

"It's /exactly/ what the Nazis and the Japanese did in World War 2, what America did at Tuskegee, and so on, and so on. It was immoral then, and it's just as immoral today." Iolaus shoots a glare at one of the other speakers -- or, the backs of the students that are surrounding the other man. If looks could kill, Iolaus would definitely be in violation of the prohibition against doing harm.

"Uh -- yes, I do work there," Iolaus says, a smile tugging at his lips. The smile grows for a moment as Ben fumbles through his pockets, but it freezes on his face as the phone is presented to him. He leans forward, looking at the picture, and then straightens up. "As you can imagine, someone just going to the clinic is enough for them to be labeled one way or another, even though the clinic does see human patients too. So, I can't answer you one way or another about whether I knew him. Is he missing?"

"He's dead," Ted explains, his mood plummeting visibly. "Someone killed him. He was a student here, but also really involved in the mutant scene in the lower east side, near the Clinic, so I thought maybe... but, yeah, I see, confidentiality and stuff, I just... well, I thought maybe if I could talk to the people who'd seen him before he died, I might be able to find out something about where he was, or where he was going, or who he was with, or..." he gestures vaguely into the air, "you know, _something_. Or, I dunno... if you have any suggestions for where to look? It doesn't seem like the police are at all interested."

"Dead?" Iolaus' face goes pale, and he looks backwards towards the disinterested man -- who no longer looks quite as aloof. "I wish I could say that I was surprised that the police don't really care, but... I'm not. Still, that doesn't mean that you have to be looking into it. Clearly, it's dangerous, and if whoever did it already was willing to kill one person...." The doctor trails off, awkwardly, though he does tug his phone out of his pocket.

"Ben Wells, you said, right? I'll let our security team know if they don't already. If it happened near the clinic, maybe we have some camera footage that could help. We can put some flyers up as well, and put the word out to some people who are... more familiar with crime in the area. If there's something we can do, we will." Iolaus says, firmly.

"Well, I, um, turn out to be hard to kill," Ted admits. He seems to feel guilty about it, which indeed he is. "So, I mean, it's something I can do, right? If anyone shoots me, maybe that means I'm getting close to something." It works that way on television, anyway. "Well, if anyone shoots me again. But anyway, I'd really appreciate anything you can do to put the word out, or whatever. It's... well, it's a shitty situation."

Eyes flicking over the younger man, Iolaus purses his lips into a thin line. "Just because it worked once, doesn't mean it always will. Mutations are incredibly complicated, and I strongly advise you not to rely on a sense of complete invincibility to get you out of all situations. You don't want to find out that you weren't completely invincible the hard way. Take it from someone who has been shot at several times, it's not exactly an experience I recommend signing up for willingly."

Ted blinks, startled. "Wait... you mean they go _away_? I... huh." His forehead wrinkles pensively. "I didn't know that... I thought mutations were, like, permanent." He hesitates a moment, then with the air of someone trying to avoid thinking about a difficult subject, asks "Who shot you?"

"They don't go away, but... they can be more complicated than we think. I met a mutant once who could fly but, it turned out, only when he was wearing wool. No idea why, but that's just the way it worked. Imagine if he had felt too hot while flying and decided to let go of his wool scarf." Iolaus shakes his head. "Shot at -- thankfully, I've never been actually hit, thanks to my bodyguards." Iolaus shoots a bright smile at the man near him. "Alec here saved me one of those times, actually. First shot missed, and then we escaped shortly afterwards."

"Oh. Well, that's good, I guess?" He thinks about it a bit before repeating "So... who shot _at_ you, then? Was it an anti-mutant thing, or an anti-doctor thing? Or, I don't know, does the Mendel Clinic provide abortions or something? These days it's hard to keep track of what exactly people are getting homicidal about."

"Anti-mutant thing, probably. Though, we do provide reproductive services at the clinic as well. Still, we don't get many pro-life protesters -- because... well." Iolaus shakes his head. "For the stupidest of reasons. And only one of them was ever caught. The rest just... left. The police didn't exactly make it a priority."

"Yeah. I get the impression they never do. Or, well, except in the other direction... they ignored the guys who shot us, and arrested us instead." That he is new to this sort of thing is clear from the sense of outrage and betrayal in his voice, as though he was expecting something different. He takes a calming breath and offers a hand in greeting. "I'm Ted, by the way. Ted Altman. I, um... I'm sorry you got shot at," he adds, kind of inanely.

Though his lips twitch for a moment, Iolaus maintains a serious expression as best he can, extending his hand and shaking the younger man's with all the solemnity of a state function. "Iolaus Saavedro. Unfortunately, it rather comes with the territory when you're active in pro-mutant circles. I'm fortunate to have dedicated protection, as well as a lucky streak that's holding so far." His head nods once, indicatively, towards his bodyguard who, admittedly, looks more like a model than a guard. "That's Alec. I tend to do the talking for the both of us, though; I'm afraid we are all rather terminally American for his tastes."

Ted nods to Alec politely, but doesn't say anything, being about as American as it gets. "Iolaus... that's an unusual name. Greek?" It sounds familiar, but he can't place why. "Anyway... if I give you my number," he asks tentatively, calling up his own contact info on his phone, "will you let me know anything you hear? About Ben, I mean." It occurs to him that he might be giving Iolaus the impression that he and Ben had been a lot closer than they actually were, but he doesn't do anything to change that, concerned that he might be asked why, in that case, he's so engaged in solving the guy's murder. He doesn't want to be asked that question, because he has no idea what the answer is.

"Yes, exactly! Greek, from mythology. Good memory," Iolaus praises, a bright smile on his face. "I can, though I'm not sure we'll be able to come up with much. We're a medical clinic, not a PI firm. Still, we'll do what we can." Iolaus tugs his phone out of his pocket, tapping out the number into a note and pocketing his phone once more. "I'll pass your name along to our head of security. She'll be the one to reach out if we have anything." He pauses for a second, then reaches out and squeezes Ted's shoulder once in a distinctly parental gesture. "If you need it, we have people you can talk to that don't judge whatever they hear. Call and make an appointment if you need it, alright?"

"Um... OK," Ted agrees, bewildered. He's not sure what Iolaus is talking about; the idea that he might need therapy after the week he's had doesn't even cross his mind. But it seems like a nice enough offer, regardless. "So, anyway... thanks for your help on this. I mean, even if it doesn't turn up anything... well, you know." He gives a spastic shrug before shoving his hands in his pockets. "Um. And thanks for your time. I should get going, I guess... I'm sure you've got important stuff to do." He doesn't actually move, and his gaze focuses on the carpeted floor beneath his feet.

Iolaus looks over to Alec and the two of them share a silent conversation entirely through raised eyebrows and quick glances. "I have a couple of more minutes before I have to head back to the clinic. If you want... we can drive over there together and I can see if there's anyone spare in the security office that can look through the footage now?" The doctor offers, gently, tone as gentle as one would use with an easily spooked animal.

Ted looks up, startled and confused. "You... what? Oh. I. Yeah. That'd be... thanks. I'd really... that'd be great." A faint sheen of sweat forms on his forehead, which he wipes off with his palm before shoving his hand back in his pocket. "I... I'm ready when you are."