I'm A Lichen You

June 17, 2015:

Agent Branch, new to WAND, shares some confidences

The Triskelian - New York


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Agent Branch sent a request to meet briefly— and it's on the early side of the morning. Bleakly early for some, really, but perhaps right up the alley of the two people he intends to meet with. There wasn't any explanation as to the subject, only that it would be quick, and that it could also serve to check in about any new developments. If nothing else, Branch is sticking to protocol, about information sharing.

And so it is that Agent Branch arrives in what he hopes is close to where Simmons works, but is having to look at hallways signs, to try to figure out where exactly it is she is located. He has a metal water bottle in hand, and looks alert, or possibly a bit edgey.

Melinda May arrives a few minutes after Branch does, looking like she's already been awake for a while. As seredipity would have it, they've stopped almost directly in front of the door to Simmons' lab… not that May volunteers that information. Not yet. She looks about to ask him to explain his reason for requesting this meeting, but she refrains as the biochemist isn't here yet.

The only reason Simmons isn't there is because she's been visiting another lab collecting data for another experiment. Walking briskly down the corridor behind the other Agents, she greets "Agent May, Agent Branch, sorry I wasn't here, just had to these results from Dr Jeffries." Stepping past the two agents, she opens the door to the lab using the biometric sensor to unlock it. "Won't you come in?"

"Good morning, Agent May," Derek greets once he spots May: which is right away. He's not lacking in observational skills. "We weren't waiting more than a few moments," he assures Simmons in an easy tone, with a greeting smile in response to her apology. He hesitates at the lab entrance a little bit, but not too long. He does immediately start to sweep the lab visually in a quick check that is standard procedure for a field agent in a potentially dangerous area. "I appreciate you granting a bit of time, I expect to not take too much of it, but I prefer to speak than memo, it's …better." Branch is pleasant in tone today, but a little tense, maybe: held in check somehow.

Melinda May can't help but notice the kind of scrutiny that Derek gives the lab, but doesn't do anything more than mentally file it away for now. Instead, she goes straight for where Simmons keeps a tiny stash of tea and a little electric kettle. Maybe it's a calculated action to put the agent more at ease, or maybe she just wants some caffeine for this time of the morning. "What did you want to speak with us about, Agent Branch?"

Reaching her work bench, Simmons begins to login, unlocking screens as Derek speaks. Looking to May and seeing she is already doing the tea, just smiles. Something in Dereks voice, has her pausing and looking at him in interest, waiting for the young man to continue.

No time wasted, and May is answered right off without small talk: "It is about me," Branch states. "I have learned that it is best to gain trust by offering it. I am not sure what parts of my file were provided, but I want to be up front with those that work with me. And… to give you the chance to request my removal, should you feel I endanger you or a mission in any way." He sounds rehearsed, like he was instructed to do this.
"I assure you, I am capable to fulfill any duties within my skills—-," he continues (mostly at May), "but, for example, should I be injured, as a non-human, I have alternate care." Towards the end of the statement, some of the nerves fade off, and a resilience comes forward into his brown eyes and firmed jaw: ready to face any oncoming issue or prejudice that may come. His first 'real' expression, even, that suggests he might have something with some strength underneath the social disfunction. "And, if I make a social blunder, it is not intentional. I am trying."

Melinda May sets two cups of tea to steep and turns to look at Derek with complete seriousness. "In your opinion, Agent Branch, is your physiology going to prevent you from being able to perform your duties to the level at which I expect?" She might sound a bit harsh compared to how she usually addresses Simmons, and she's most definitely not mincing her words here.

Simmons has no idea what Branch is talking about, his file requires security clearance far higher than hers "Non human" Now she sounds interested and she glances to May for clarification. "Do we need to update The Index?" before looking back to Derek, flushing a little "Social blunders are expected… you haven't met Fitz yet…."

"No, Agent May; regardless of physiology, I intend to raise your bar of expectations." That was natural, not rehearsed. Serious tone Derek can do, although he lends intense again, not deadpan or cold. The harsh tone seems to cause Derek to gain confidence, as opposed to the opposite. "And I am willing to demonstrate anything in my file, to equip you with using me best, or ignore it all, if it is more comfortable to the team." He tilts his head a little bit towards Simmons, and adapts. Maybe for her benefit, to smile, "…Maybe raise your blunder expectations to new heights too."

Melinda May gives Derek a serious stare for a few seconds, then nods. "I'll be alert for both eventualities, then." She turns back to the mugs of tea, finishes preparing them, and carries them over to hand one to Simmons. "I'd rather you not try to challenge my expectations for blunders. Barton has set the bar extremely high already. Now, do you have any requirements I should know about that were not clearly explained in your file?"

"Please don't offer to do that, Agent Branch" Simmons accepts the mug of tea from May with a smile that she turns to Derek "You really are setting the bar rather high for blunders. Why this one time Fitz and I …." Simmons eyes widen a little and she drops her eyes to her mug as she falls silent for a moment. Looking up again, between May and Derek "May I know what abilities? Of course if they are that classified, I understand."

A clipped nod is given to May, once, when she nods at him. He starts to respond to the comments about Barton and blunders, but decides it's better to.. just not. He's learning. He fiddles a little bit with the metal bracket on the top of his water with his left hand, but doesn't have any of it. "I am not certain if my lab restrictions are still in my file, or not," Derek admits, "But I don't agree they were warranted. I'm not a contaminant." A pause. "Although that's my opinion." He pauses when Simmons asks about his abilities and classified status, and looks at May for a cue. Checking with the superior present, as Simmons isn't part of WAND. "I don't think my species is classified."

Melinda May nods to Derek. If he feels okay with sharing personal details with Simmons, she's not going to stop him. "Branch, I have the distinct feeling that Captain would be more of a contaminant than you." She doesn't outright say it, but she would like to know why he entered this lab as if it were hostile territory. She squashes the urge to ask in a sip of her tea.

Simmons eyebrows rise as Derek mentions contaminent and she peers more closely at him "Are you ill, Agent Brach?" That's the logical conclusion to draw but then May mentions the cat and now the biochem is simply confused and she looks politely to see if Agent Branch will enlighten her.

"I don't understand the science of the contaminant. I'm sorry. I would have loved to have studied biochemistry, but…." The look he had before when he found out Jemma was a chemist haunts back up, but he smiles. "Ill? No. My dead cells are related to mold spore, which I think could compromise exposed experiments…?-. I- would you just prefer a sample?" Derek questions, getting a little blundering now that he's uncertain about what to say. "…if I say it directly, it sounds like I am not a person," he adds, quietly.

Melinda May seems completely unperturbed by Derek's admission, and leans a hip against the edge of a table to keep sipping slowly at her mug of tea, which is almost as good as her saying 'have at, kids'. This is actually another subtle test, to see how well Derek handles being in the lab environment, and also to see how Simmons handles an ally that's uneasy in her natural environment.

Simmons waves off the last comment "Of course you are… She looks between May and Derek again "It would be very helpful, of course, to know what I'm dealing with. And everyone has dead cells." did he just say mold spore, how interesting…. Simmons has dealt with Lunair in the lab environment. "And if you'd like to know a little about bio-chemistry, when your duties permit, I'd be glad to help you learn. We do all sorts of interesting things here."

Looking at Derek, to his hands and then his face "Typically a skin scraping, very light is all I'd need, but you'd be best to guide me on the best way for your physiology." she adds with a pleasant smile.

For an instant, Derek looks thrilled and nearly glows, like Simmons just did something he's very pleased about, when she suggested she teach him things. Whether that's just that he likes to learn in general, or more specifically just HER, probably isn't obvious. "Yes, I /know/," Derek agrees wholeheartedly with 'interesting things'. His expectation of interesting is clearly large.
"No needles," Derek says, very quickly with an edge of distress, and agrees happily with the better option suggested, "I'm used to giving samples all the time, if you have a slide or swab." Constantly sampled, this is nothing weird.

Melinda May makes a mental note at Derek's reaction to needles. Fascinating. She keeps quietly observing, as she wants to see how he reacts to anything else. Simmons, as expected, did exactly the right thing to reassure Branch. She hadn't expected any less. But knowing that Derek is used to giving samples, that is actually a little troubling to her.

Of course Simmons does have both slide and swab and she's not so suprised by the Agents reactions to needles. Should have seen Lunairs response! Holding the slide out, she smiles again "Anytime your duties permit it. With Fitz away so often it gets quiet and you know" she lowers her voice conspiratorially "There's only other scientists to talk to." Which isn't really a problem, but hopefully it helps Derek relax as the sample is collected and stored appropriately.

This is routine, Derek accepts the swab - not the slide -, applies it to the inside of cheek, seems to wait a moment and then removes it. Evidently mouth is his preference. Since the two women are watching him do that, they might pick up that he doesn't seem to breathe during the procedure. Or particularly much afterward. Just when talking. "Sure. It must be lonely without your associate," Derek says, with a quiet, thoughtful empathy usually lacking in sniper oriented field agents. The swab sample is a sort of bright brown-orange, and he inspects it visually before handing it over, deeming it suitable. He glances at May, attempting to read her expression.

Melinda May is still doing her best Vulcan impersonation, offering very few visual cues as to her thoughts or mood. "Is there anything else, Agent Branch?" Unless he speaks up, she's going to rinse out her mug and take her leave. She's got other things to deal with today, and Derek seems pretty well in hand.

Simmons looks at the swab before putting it in the air tight container and writing the details on the outside. "Thank you, Agent Branch. Once I've had chance to examine this, would you mind dropping back for chat?" Simmons is certain the results are going to be fascinating.

"No ma'am," Branch answers May immediately, military response automatic. "Thank you for your time to let me clear the air, even if only for my sake," he adds. He glances around the lab once as if to remind himself about his location, and agrees to Simmons, "Yes. Maybe there's something new that you find out," he smiles, with a quiet, but careful, hope. Perhaps finding out new things is just as common as giving samples. "I've my own duties to get to. Until then."

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