A Not So Modest Proposal

April 21, 2015:

Bruce Banner seeks out Harrison Wells to find some lab space and, perhaps, some collegiality.

STAR Labs

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Bruce's facility with computers is sufficient to let him drop into the STAR servers, although not into its most encrypted areas. But enough to get into the staff communication network anyway and leave a message:

Dr. Wells.

I have a proposal that I believe could be mutually beneficial to both myself and STAR Labs. If possible, I can meet with you discreetly at the laboratory after hours on the twenty first to discuss. Simply reply yes or no - further details would be wiped by the attached encryption software. I look forward to conversing with you. I caution against the involvement of government or law enforcement if only for the protection and safety of the laboratory and its personnel. Thank you for your time.

Dr. Bruce Banner.

Banner, of course, has two reputations - one as a brilliant scientist, among the most brilliant theoretical physicists in the world. On the other hand, he's also known as an unstable renegade and, of course, a fugitive with masive amounts of collateral destruction and death on his head.

The cursor will wait for Dr. Wells' response.


The message was met with the vaguest curve of Wells' lips and a faint furrowing of his eyebrows, but behind those glasses, even with the already-identified security threats (that Doctor Banner managed to outline), intrigue, as always seems to win out. Harrisons fingers move to the keyboard and slowly fly across one word. Singular. Decisive. Risky.

Yes.

The one word is left to the cursor, giving Wells a greater sense of awareness and accomplishment as he reaches out to grasp the coffee cup adjacent his computer.

A few beats later, he writes himself a note to send out a staff-wide memo noting that the lab is fumigating on the twenty-first and thus no one is to work late on that particular evening.


Bruce arrives on a simple ten speed, having long since learned that large moving vehicles were an invitation to accident or, at the very least, road rage. He can do without road rage.

He makes his way inside, allowing himself to be scanned as necessary. He's been scanned plenty of times before and presumes Wells would want to collect a bit of data on him, regardless of how their discussion works out. Scientists collect data. Bruce is clad simply in a pair of sneakers, jeans, and a Grumpy Cat t-shirt, along with a baseball cap pulled low over his face.

When, at last, he enters the lab space, he approaches Wells with a crisp, straightforward stride, "Dr. Wells, thank you for meeting me. I appreciate the risks involved."


Scans were pretty much a must. Curiosity alone beckons Wells' actions, but the man in the wheelchair hardly reacts to the risks involved, instead offering Banner a self-deprecating smile followed by a small wave of his hand, indicating a strange dismissal of the risks. "Doctor Banner," he replies, finding a measure of warmth in his voice, as his hands move to the wheels of his chair to close any remaining distance between them, "I'm familiar with some of your work." He reaches out his hand to accept the other man's in a handshake.

"But I do admit, this is rather," he pauses, allowing his blue eyes to scan the rather empty lab. Not even the janitorial staff are in thanks to his mandated fumigation, "unusual. Mind, not so much the precautions as the level of quiet." His lips hitch up on one side in a comical lopsided smile that fades moments later. "Not that it's been as active lately anyways."

With a tick of his head, and the chair moving backwards at the command of his hands, Wells suggests, "Follow me, please. I feel rude leaving you to stand while I'm already sitting," there's just an edge of humour in his voice as he guides the other man to his office. The chair across from Wells' desk is motioned towards, "Feel free to have a seat." With ease, he moves around the desk to where he's generally stationed in this room.


Bruce Banner follows along easily enough, momentarily about to dismiss the consideration and then realizing it is likely a joke to some degree. Bruce isn't always good at jokes, although he appreciates the friendly welcome. He makes his way to a chair, settling down and leaning back a bit.

"I'm hoping, perhaps, I can help with that. I felt that, if anyone would understand the importance of second chances, of new opportunities, it might be you, Dr. Wells," he says simply. "I'm certain you're familiar with my condition. It's hardly a secret. But I am no less a scientist now than I was before. For the last few years, I have done my best piecemeal, salvaging equipment where I can. But I need genuine lab conditions and equipment to do research properly. If I'm ever to…solve my particular problem, nothing less will do."

"I would like, if possible, to find a place at STAR to do that."

"I understand that my working here would have to, to some degree, be off the books. I can easily limit my work to after hours - I'm something of a night owl by nature regardless. And, while I understand there's a risk involved physically in having me on premises, I have become fairly adept at monitoring my mood and triggers - if anything, I'm at my calmest while performing research, even difficult or frustrating research. I'm more likely to lose my temper at a McDonald's ordering breakfast."

He considers, "And I think that I have much to offer. I'd be willing to offer my expertise to any projects or work that STAR would desire of me. I will do so free of charge and without expectation of credit or attribution. A modest salary might be useful, if only to stabilize my living conditions, but I'm willing to work simply for lab space and time."


As Banner expounds his purpose in coming, Harrison's lips quirk into a toothy, nearly puzzled near-smirk, the kind of expression someone could wear when they receive news they weren't expecting. His lips part slightly and he nods faintly as his hands find their way back to the wheels of his chair, although he remains stationary. Sometimes, such things are little more than a habit, a force of human nature practiced again and again.

It's not until Bruce has finished explaining his purpose and goals completely that Harrison even attempts to interject, and even then, it's not without its own consideration around carefully selected, clearly chosen words, "Doctor Banner, I doubt there are few unfamiliar with your condition." He smiles, a warm gesture for a stranger welcomed into the space that is STAR Labs. "But you're right, second chances are something we firmly believe in at STAR Labs. Second chances at pretty much everything." His tongue rolls over his lips in an effort to moisten them as he relays, "I had a junior researcher curiously let out an unstable mutated created recently to consider its potential. And they're still working here." Second chances abound.

His eyes squint slightly in consideration, "And I'm aware of what you bring to the table in experience. I'm not sure you're familiar with our current projects, but we're aiming to understand meta-humans better in order to help them, but also to get ahead of whatever the political landscape offers for them in the future." He pauses and holds up a single hand in apology, "I think our goals align here, Doctor Banner. And," his eyebrows draw together, "I suspect, pooling resources would help us both further in the work. Anyways that we can help meta humans would be ideal."

His lips purse lightly, "I think — " he begins and then nods " — I think I can accommodate your request. Space I have in droves," that same self-deprecating smile tugs the edges of his lips.


Bruce Banner is more relieved than he'll show, tending to keep his emotions (wisely) close to the vest, "I'm pleased to hear it. I am not a people person, per se, but it has been difficult to pursue my research entirely alone. Sometimes, the feedback of other scientists is the best check against one's on ego and the best method of capturing critical mistakes. And trying to make up for that on your own can lead to a degree of self-analysis which is uncomfortable to say the least," he says.

"May I ask, perhaps, what sort of projects STAR is working on currently? Not a comprehensive list, just, perhaps, a few basic concepts to which I can put my mind spinning? I have worked for so very long on my particular problem - it will be good to apply my training to something beyond the narrow scope of my own physiology."


Another smile tugs Wells' lips upwards, "Well, these days we're trying to clean up some of our own mess." He groans lightly, "Some time ago, one of our key projects, a personal passion of mine — " he draws his eyebrows together, recognizing that Banner is probably aware of STAR Labs' foibles " — the particle accelerator — had negative consequences. Many of the remaining staff are helping to resolve some of those consequences or help whoever…" Once more he raises a hand in apology, he's skipping ahead in the story. "Forgive me, it's been a long day. The explosion seems to have interrupted genetic sequencing in some individuals who were within the blast radius. They've come out as meta-humans."

"To be honest, apart from resolving and helping those lives that the particle accelerator changed, that I changed, we're working on understanding meta-humans better. Some of this considers reversal of meta-human abilities, other parts focus on control and limitations. We aim to understand meta-humans better. Across the board." Wells sighs. "More than that though, my personal goal is to get ahead of this as much as possible. If things like registration are around the corner, being at the front means we may be able to control some of the information that the public receives. Which could, theoretically, impact their reaction to metas, mutants, and anyone different. It's an opportunity to help others embrace peace." He shrugs and then emits an audible breath, nearly scoffing at himself, "Or, perhaps, it's merely the ideals of a semi-discredited scientist aiming for some level of redemption, even now."


Bruce Banner considers, "Well, obviously, the effects of radiation of various types of genetic material is obviously a research point close to my own work - or, at the very least, the direction my work has gone in over the last five years. It took me some time to get myself sufficiently steeped in genetics. While my professional qualifications remain primarily in physics and technology, I've immersed myself fairly deeply in genetic and medical research over the last few years, so I can help in those areas."

"And I can certainly sympathize with individuals who've had to face…unexpected mutation. I can, perhaps, offer a certain degree of perspective for them. I would say sympathy, but I must be honest, empathetic relation to other human beings wouldn't be put down as one of my strong suits."


There's a dismissive wave of Wells' hand followed by a nod, "We're scientists, not therapists. It doesn't mean we can't identify or relate on some level, but empathizing doesn't always come naturally." At this Harrison smirks, just a little. "Believe me. Righting wrongs though, trying to understand on a physical level, and helping others reach whatever potential they need to, whether that's eliminating abilities or helping them control them, that is something we can do. Especially on a very practical level."

"And I think your work could align well here. Sincerely." He hmms quietly, "It's possible I may even have a few employees who would be trustworthy enough to work alongside you if you wished. I have a few who already work at a level of confidentiality that I would never have thought to expect from them, and I trust them implicitly."


Bruce Banner nods, "I would be open to that. My confidentiality needs are simple and straightforward - obviously, the media would be an issue. Beyond that, I most especially want SHIELD and the government kept at bay. They have attempted to weaponize the Hulk," he says, finally saying the name of his alter ego, with a certain amount of obvious disdain in his voice, "ever since it came into existence. They have no interest in a cure - if anything, they want to make more. They may claim otherwise but, to be frank, I have never been given reason to trust them." he says.

He stands up slowly, "Well, I won't take up any more of your time tonight, Doctor. If you can get me the necessary security passes, I can work on getting myself set up over the next few days and, hopefully, I can begin meeting the members of your staff you think would be appropriate. At the time sime, I recognize that you're taking a risk on me - I'm willing to undergo whatever restrictions you desire in terms of access and exposure for your employees."


There's a faint nod of Wells' head. "My interactions with military have been much the same. Science isn't just for the sake of weaponizing the world." The grin appears once more, "It's about making the world a better place, and trying to understand whatever mystery it still holds."

"Risk or not, if we can help each other, Doctor Banner, I'm willing to take that risk. We live in a somewhat volatile time, and I think it's imperative that we work with like-minded people during it." After another few beats he adds, "Thank you for coming in. I appreciate your reaching out. The opportunity to collaborate has some definite potential."

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