2008-02-21: Enforced Relaxation


Joule_icon.gif Mohinder_icon.gif

Summary: Mohinder's frustrations and concerns get the better of him. Joule thinks he just needs to relax.

Date It Happened: February 21, 2008

Enforced Relaxation

Mohinder's Secret Lab

Just a little frazzled, Mohinder is in his mobile lab, making sure several coded vials are still secure in their hiding spot. So far, apart from Jack, Joule is the only person that knows of the mobile lab unit. Yet after yesterday, Mohinder isn't too sure about the safety of his little project. He's also not sure if Niki completely bought the fake formula he gave her the previous night.

Joule shows up, and makes the coded knock she'd insisted upon. You don't get to be a good photojournalist without picking up on details, and since Mohinder has spoken of random disappearances and people with questionable morals, this was something she thought prudent. She follows it up by entering as he taught her, through the front. "Afternoon, Doctor."

It's a good thing Joule is using the coded knock, otherwise she might have been greeted by the barrel of a gun. Just when Mohinder thinks matters have calmed down, something gets stirred right back up again. Straightening up to stand at his full height, he glances over at Joule as she enters, "Afternoon." The doctor is mildly distracted as he looks at the vials, debating.

Joule regards Mohinder in calm silence for a moment. Something seems to have him keyed up. "What's going on this afternoon?" she asks, hands on hips expectantly. He's not going to get away with being all mysteriously cranky if she didn't get to. Oh, no.

Mohinder isn't mysteriously cranky! He's thoughtful, and agitated. There's a difference. He tends to throw things when cranky and frustrated. So, he hasn't reached that point yet. "Not much," he says, leaving the samples in the mini-fridge where they've been since he relocated them to the mobile lab. He turns to look at the files and paperwork spread across the table bolted down in the center of the room, frowning. Give this up as a lost cause? Or does the formula have merit? It must not be a total failure, considering Niki's visit the previous night.

"Pull the other one, it's got bells on," Joule replies evenly. "Something's on your mind." She settles into the chair where she usually waits to take dictation from him, or to take notes as he thinks aloud while working on this project or that project.

Mohinder leans forward against the table, planting his hands against its surface. "Have I created something that's dangerous? That should be destroyed? Or could it prove to be beneficial with further study?" He's not really asking Joule, but he is, in a rhetorical fashion as he seems to be mostly talking to himself. "What the devil could she have wanted this for.. the damage is done. It was formulated just for her, what reason could she have for wanting the rest?"

Joule takes a slow, deep breath, and lets it out quietly. He's talking to himself. Okay. She can wait.

…about ten seconds.

"If it's formulated for just one person, how is it dangerous and needing to be destroyed, then?" Joule offers, very quietly, but loudly enough for him to pick up in the confines of the minilab.

Mohinder blinks and looks over at Joule. The expression on his face seems to ask, 'when did you get here?' "It was intended to hinder the multiple personality disorder, even dampen the ability. In the wrong hands, it could be altered and used for destructive purposes." He looks away from Joule and stares down at the papers on the table. His expression hard, he seems to be looking for answers in the equations, the test results and his notations.

"Oh, your patient X, then. But if it's formulated for her, anyone trying to adjust it for someone else wouldn't know what you began with, would they? They'd be trying to reverse engineer it to its original components, before engineering it forward once again to work on a new patient." Joule wrinkles her nose. "Sounds like a bloody complicated and pointless undertaking, given one couldn't be sure of the result without extensive testing."

Now Mohinder is getting frustrated on top of the agitation. "The people she's with now. I've seen their labs, I know of one of their researchers. They seem to be on par with the people I've been working with. That will be no obstacle for them." Instead of simply walking away from the papers, or putting them back into their folders, he knocks them off the table with a swipe of his arm. "Why does she want it back? She came to me last night, threatening me to get the rest. She said she needed it as backup. She wouldn't specify if it was for herself or someone else!"

Joule's eyes widen in surprise at the display of temper. She gets up from the chair and walks over to him. She pauses, though, brows furrowing as he describes being threatened. "Threatened you?" Oh, no they did not. "Okay, and you didn't take it to the authorities for a good reason, I'm presuming." The reason had better be good. She folds her arms, and stares at him. "They do call that assault, you know." She twists her mouth wryly, then thins her lips. "Let me guess. It's her ability. You want to keep all that out of the sight of the regulars." It isn't really a question. And she doesn't duck to start picking up the papers.

"No, I didn't take it to the authorities. The police cannot stop this person, or those behind her. They aren't capable of containing her." Besides, what would Mohinder tell them anyway? "Instead of contacting anyone in any sort of position of authority, I took her to my lab on Reed Street and gave her a false formula. She thought she was getting what I injected her with." Instead she got saline. "Police cannot stop a person who is capable of benchpressing a bus." Not without harming her. "I could have used my taser, if I had kept it in my pocket."

"Okay, for the safety of the regulars, then." Very noble, yeah. "And what happens when she finds out you gave her a fake and comes back pissed off at you for shining her on, Doctor? She can bench press a bus. This lab is about the same size. If you're in it when she comes back…" she trails off. There are chemicals in here that would not happily form together under the stress of mixing. To say nothing of how well Mohinder would fare trapped in a box of crumpling plastic, rent metal and lab glass being turned into deadly shards. Her first thought is 'we need to move this lab'. Her second thought is 'he has a taser?' Her third is leaving it up to him, so she forces the thoughts to stay behind her lips for the moment. "So …what's the plan, then?"

"Which is why I didn't bring her to this one. Only you and one other person know of this place. Hopefully she won't ever need to discover she was given saline." Mohinder looks down at the papers on the floor and stoops to gather them up. "The plan, is to work for the organization she is with. See what they're up to, what leverage could be gained by having the formula. This patient, she's a good woman, very kind, but I fear her personalities might be coming out again, and this group could be tainting her mind." Papers in hand, he stands back up to organize them. "Sorry. I shouldn't be this worked up about her visit last night."

Joule turns that over and over in her head for a bit. "Hm. So your apartment isn't safe if she decides to come back, and you think an infiltration of the organization she's with is a good idea? What about your ward?" Joule waves away his apology. "It sounds like you have something of a good reason, but you shouldn't be trying to play detective by yourself while you're responsible for a child." She meets his eyes should he turn to look at her. Her expression is steely. Not doing right by the closest thing he has to a daughter is something that hits a nerve with Joule.

"And working for my current organization isn't safe for her either," Mohinder says in a sharper tone than intended for Joule. "My apartment hasn't been safe for some time. We've relocated to other facilities, and they weren't good for her. She wants to return to the apartment. That's where she's most comfortable. The truth of the situation is that we cannot hide from those who want to find us."

Joule glowers silently at Mohinder for a long minute. But she can't argue the point without more information. His research is obviously that important to him, that he can't just leave New York and be safe. She understands. Her father would probably have done the same. "All right. This still leaves too much to chance. If she wanted your serum, she wanted it for a reason. If she takes it, she'll realize it isn't the real thing. If she gives it to someone to break down, they'll discover it isn't the real thing." She actually gives Mohinder a warm, sweet smile at that. He thinks from his heart when all is said and done. So does she; not a bad thing when you're a headstrong photographer, but in this case? Yeah. But she likes having it in common with him just the same.

Mohinder would have a hard time finding a good hiding place, not just for himself, but for Molly. The girl who can find anyone, it's difficult for her to hide. "It does. I hate uprooting her more than she already has been." Shuffling the papers, his focus drops down onto those as he puts things back in order. "That's just it. I'm not sure why she wanted it. She was quite adamant in not explaining that to me. If they discover I didn't give her the formula, I'll deal with that when the time comes."

"But how, Doctor?" Joule presses. "You, I hate to point out, can't lift a bloody bus. If this woman comes back for you, and she's angry, she's going to snap you like a twig." A little worried? Okay, yes, perhaps. "You need a better contingency plan than waiting 'til the wolf's at your bleedin' door, man!"

Mohinder sets the papers down and stares across at Joule, "I have a gun, and I have a tazer." Which he doesn't want to use the former on Niki. He likes the woman, for God's sake, her son and Molly are playmates. He's faced other odds and made it through. "Not to mention any other number of paralytics I have at my disposal."

"A taser?" Joule repeats. "A gun?!" She keeping from shouting with a huge effort. "Are you listening to yourself? Do you think shooting her is going to stop her? She can lift a bus, and you think a few volts of electricity will stop her?" She shakes her head. "Secondary mutations have to be in there somewhere, otherwise the strength would have snapped her spine. She has to have reinforced musculo-skeletal construction." She sighs. "You're going to get yourself killed."

Mohinder slams the flat of his hands down onto the table, "Then what the devil do you suggest I do?!" As far as he's concerned, it's adequate protection. Provided he can shoot first. "The voltage can be modified if I have to use it on her." Seeing as he got the weapons from the Company. "I'm not going to get myself killed." It's not so much confidence that has him stating that, as it is that he's worked up, and argumentative.

Okay, not thinking, just being aggravated. Joule realizes she's taken the wrong tack with him, and is making him more agitated than necessary. "All right, I'm sorry. Calm down." And she concentrates. A ripple goes through her eyes, briefly sparking them with a gold light as if a scan had just passed behind her irises.

This is one mood and mindset Joule will need to get acquainted with if she's to work more frequently with Mohinder. That and his inclinations towards reckless behavior. "I am calm," he says, although he meant to snap the words, he's surprised to find, he really is calm. The tension, the built up stress, it just seems to have melted away. His shoulders relax as he looks across at Joule appreciatively. "I'm sorry, I should not have taken out my frustration on you." It's almost a delayed reaction as he realizes Joule must have played a part in the stress reduction. "Thank you, what is it that you did?"

"Nothing much," Joule says modestly, with a shrug. "Did some studying awhile back about where the body keeps and manufactures stress reactors and what sort of toxins build up in the body when stressed. Worked out how to get your body to dispose of them. Did it. I find clever minds think clearer when they're calm, don't you?" He'll need a couple glasses of water, of course. And a trip to the WC before much longer, but comparatively speaking, not much of a price to pay.

Mohinder smiles gratefully across at the woman before he puts the files away. "I just get a little carried away. I apologize." At least he hasn't smashed up equipment in front of Joule. Yet. "It's a very clever and useful application of your ability." Understanding Joule's explanation, his sudden sense of thirst makes sense. Finding a bottle of water, he opens it up, taking several drinks. "Again, I apologize. I've just been overly concerned about the meaning of last night's visit." And wondering just /why/ Niki was so desperate to have the formula.

"I see that. I can't really fault you for it, either," Joule admits. "It's because your work means a lot to you. It's because you have a passion for it. I understand it. I'm the same way, myself." Why most of her cameras are digital now; too many occasions of throwing developing pans at the wall. "I can't blame you for being concerned. If you know her well and were trying to help her, it must be something serious that has her willing to threaten you over."

"It would have to be quite serious." Mohinder hasn't checked in at the Company in some time, so he isn't aware of anything that has happened with Pinehearst. He doesn't know about Arthur Petrelli, or just how nefarious things are over there. "I did already tell her organization I would freelance. To help her." After that? Things will just have to progress.

"Unfortunately, I don't have quite the level of control over my abilities to shadow her, or force her to talk without the drama that would go with it," Joule admits apologetically. "At least, not like that." She balls a fist, though, coming to some internal conclusion. "We just have to make sure she doesn't harm you while trying to help herself."

"I wouldn't want you to do that," Mohinder says, and he wouldn't ask that of Joule either. It's slow to realization, but when it clicks, Suresh stares at Joule. "Excuse me?" He walks around the table and approaches her, "There's no we in this. This is my problem, and I'll be keeping you out of the mess I've found myself in."

Joule steps forward and pokes Mohinder in the chest with her right forefinger. "Get one thing straight here, Doctor. You're my employer. But you're also my friend. And I am my own woman. So if you think you can keep me out of this by ordering me, I'll simply quit and still keep an eye on you. Trying to handle the depth of these events by oneself already lost us your father, innit — I'll not see his son go the same way." Her expression dares him to try talking her out of it. Dares him to fire her. Dares him to do his worst.

Mohinder looks down at the finger poking him in the chest. He looks at a loss for words with Joule's argument. "My father was murdered by a psychotic murderer who couldn't control his ability." And if given the chance again, he won't hold back his punches against. "My father had more sense than to get caught up in the same organizations as I have." There's also the fact that Sylar got Chandra Suresh before the Company could recruit him.

"I remember you mentioning. And I'm sorry. Very sorry." Joule says, sincerely. "But if the scientific community hadn't laughed him into pursuing everything alone, this might not have happened." She withdraws the finger, belatedly. "Well, we can't wish away the past. All we can do is live in the moment, and plan for the future."

Mohinder doesn't back away when Joule retracts her finger. "No, and a lot of things might not have happened. I wouldn't have saved Molly's life, she wouldn't be my ward, I wouldn't have come to America, and I would have continued doubting my own father." He looks down at Joule, his eyes searching out hers. Realizing he's teetering on the edge of inappropriate thoughts, he looks away from the woman.

"Perhaps, or perhaps not," Joule says, reaching to take his hand instead. "Or you might have seen for yourself, and still come. But it's just driving yourself in mad circles to wonder 'what if'. The important thing now is keeping you safe. And your Molly. And still finding a way to help your patient. And we will. We'll find a way to work it out."

Mohinder glances down at Joule's hand taking his, and he finds himself giving it a light squeeze. "You're right," he caves. Now whether or not he keeps Joule in the loop, that's up for debate. Knowing Mohinder, if he gets a crazy idea into his head, he'll go his own road and pay the price for it.

Then it's a good thing Joule is herself crazy. She's already got the crazy idea in her head that Molly's not going to grow up without a father figure. "Good, then." She squeezes his hand in return, then lets go. "It's going to be okay, one way or the other." She'll just have to play up her notoriety, and start networking, making connections, and keeping visible. Better to make it hard to disappear her if she starts poking around. And she will.

Even if something happens to Mohinder, Molly will still have Matt. Who is a far more stable figure than the geneticist. "I know it will," he says, trying to meet Joule's eyes. "I've wasted enough time today. I should get back to work." If only Mohinder knew the crazy schemes that are going through Joule's mind, and if she knew what was going on in his.

Ah, but Joule hasn't met Matt yet. So as far as she knows, there's only Mohinder …whom she's probably becoming a bit too attached to herself. "All right. Back to work, then," she says, with a smile. "But I think, first, you need a night off. So we can work tomorrow. Come along." And with that she's grabbing his elbow to lead him out into the New York night. Visibility time begins now!

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