02.23.3014: Curious Choices
Summary: Rozlyn and Helena have a painfully awkward run-in.
Date: 27 Nov 2013
Related: The "Shades Move"
Helena Rozlyn 

Central Corridor - Lab Facilities, The Ring
There is a distinct sterile isolation to this particular level of The Ring. The curved, central corridor is smooth and bland grey with vibrant white lights embedded in the ceiling and floor tiles, creating an all-encompassing luminosity. Secondary corridors are specifically spaced, leading down into various labs. Unauthorized personnel are not permitted past the lift doors, and some labs require airlock decontamination before entry.
23 Feb 3014

Above the bustle of the popular districts on The Ring, the lab facilities provide a completely different - indeed, polar opposite - environment for the resident nerds. Although not entirely quiet, the curved corridor maintains a certain agreed-upon hush, and passing scientists discuss their many quandaries in quiet tones and whispers.

One such scientists is Helena, who is muttering away into her earpiece while flipping rapidly through her tablet's display. She is standing at the entrance to one of the many side-corridors, although this one leads to a public lab rather than to her own. Although the one-sided content of the conversation is audible, the language is indistinct; perhaps if someone were near enough they would catch snippets referring to various pieces such as "the transcripts" and "my project" and, perhaps most dubious of all, "splice".

With the removal of what had become her primary source of research, Rozlyn is set somewhat adrift. Or such is the excuse she uses for being unable to focus as she once did. The woman is in the midst of a conversation with another scientist, talking about rental of some equipment or another. They stop near to the side-hall, before the door to the other scientist's lab. There's decisions made and they disappear inside.

The Orelle woman, however, only makes it a few strides — nearer to the Dalton — before she's stopped to look at a few things on her tablet, brow furrowed.

Helena does not look up, but she is, at least, aware of other human beings in her vicinity. When they draw near enough that she may be impeding their progress, she moves to the side to step out of the way should anybody be trying to get past her. The movement is not entirely graceful, however; her foot rolls a little and she stumbles, temporarily off-balance. The move is enough to work the tablet from her grasp, and it clatters to the ground in a rather jarring clamor. Of course, most of the people passing through pause to look over at the Dalton who is crouching and picking up the pieces of her ruined electronic brain.

"Let me call you back," Helena states crisply, her voice carrying only the faintest edge of annoyance. She pitches pieces of plastic and metal into a nearby rubbish bin. "It's a good thing you were cheap," she mutters to nobody in particular, although obviously the comment was meant only for the shattered remains.

The initial response from Rozlyn when the clatter occurs is to clutch her tablet all the tighter. The second, however, is to actually look up and ensure the safety of the area. It's a lead scientist's ingrained habit. Too often do interns run about and pay no heed to what might be in their way. Her gaze, however, finally catches to Helena and there's a slight shift in her mien. Concern shifts to… something else. Not quite inscrutable, the Orelle has a measure of curiosity in her gaze.

There's a rapid shift, however, when Rozlyn realizes she might be staring. Moving forward, she takes a few easy steps to retrieve a piece that decided to go further than the rest. It is discarded and she finally looks back to the Dalton. "You would think they might have improved the structure rather than simply making them cheaper." No one ever said she was good at small talk.

Blowing air between pursed lips, Helena's exhalation causes a lock of hair to flip out of her eyes back to its proper place framing her face. She glances up to Rozlyn, still crouching near the ground, and watches with curiosity as the woman fetches the last of the evidence of her ungainly maneuver. The doctor doesn't know whether to be amused or cross, and so settles for the intermediary of polite curiosity.

Helena straightens her posture, offering the Orelle a firm nod of acknowledgement for her assistance. Absently, her hands wander to her pockets, patting herself down in search of a replacement gadget, but none appear. "I have learned that durability is somewhat at odds with profit margins. The more durable they are, the fewer people buy, or something ridiculous of that nature. I think the real problem is the manufacturer aims for a market with the widest of possible demographics to purchase the one product, rather than developing a line of products tailored for the different demographics. Cheap and lazy is my guess, anyway, but I was never one for marketing. Thank you for the help, Lady — ?"

And so further at odds Rozlyn finds herself. She keeps track of the vassals and their notable members in general, but in this case… The way Luke had spoken of his excursion made her curious. The Orelle lets her hands fall to her side, fingers curling protectively around her tablet. "I prefer to leave the marketing to others, myself. It is too… flighty a thing, I find."

Clearing her throat slightly, Rozlyn glances away momentarily. Dark eyes slide along the wall towards the nearest lab entrance before shifting back to Helena. "Doctor Rozlyn Orelle," she provides and, though there's a measure of it being awkwardly put, she does add: "And yourself?"

Helena has no anchor at which to grasp, and so she stands with her arms hanging at her sides, the very picture of awkward. After a few seconds of silence, she hastily crosses her arms beneath her breasts. "Flighty and imperfect, social science and psychology; nothing hard, and nothing truly measurable. They try, though, with their thousand scales." She shakes her head briefly.

"Doctor Rozlyn! Of course, I should have recognized you, but my mind is elsewhere today." Helena pauses, pursing her lips together and studying the woman surreptitiously with quick glances. "Doctor Helena Dalton. A doctor of a different feather, though. I am more often in the medbay than down this wing." Another pause follows in which the Dalton's bright gaze slides away toward a point just past Rozlyn. "Thanks again for the help. Hope you weren't struck by shrapnel."

"If one can call the social aspects of society a science," Rozlyn murmurs, practically to herself. "The tides shift which each new show on the Infosphere, or trend of toys among children. I find it far too organic to consider a science."

It's easier to keep the conversation light, but she finally tilts her head in a nod. "All kinds find their way to the research levels. Often even those who are not strictly scientists. Knowledge calls all, at some time or another." The Orelle noblewoman draws in a slow breath, jaw tensing briefly, "No, I was not."

She seems about to turn to step away, but soon comes to a pause. There's something of a lengthy, internal war, before she offers: "You have made a good choice in Sir Luke Grantham to provide escort for your excursion."

"Was it a choice?"

The question is posed before Helena can filter her own thoughts. In mid-turn ready to go separate ways, Helena is startled out of her reverie by Rozlyn's voice and the pang of guilt the name brings - hence the blurt. As the proverbial cat is out of the proverbial bag, however, the doctor gives an inward shrug and turns back to look at Rozlyn. Her gaze is steady and her expression carefully neutral bordering on bland. "Sir Luke is competent and, perhaps, superior to many. My aunt was unable to spare my cousin for the task, unfortunately." How much more should be volunteered?

For a second it looks as if Helena has nothing more to say, but with a flicker of an eyelid, she glances away while simultaneously saying, "He will be returned to you whole and alive, Doctor."

"Unless he volunteered, in which case, you are a fortunate woman."

This is not an easy thing for Rozlyn and her own expression is almost too neutral. Too level. Calculations are allowed to run through her head to keep her even-keeled. The noblewoman draws in a long breath and clasps her hands before her; tablet tucked in against her waist. The last statement from the Dalton, however, earns a tilt of the head and a furrowing of the brow. The Orelle is confused. "I am not his keeper, Lady Doctor. While I would hope for him to remain safe, I do not expect him to be returned to me, specifically."

"He didn't volunteer. He was in need of something on which to focus, so I offered him the job." Helena reaches up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, and that hand drops to fiddle with the pendant at the base of her throat. Her eyebrows dart upward at Rozlyn's response, and she dares to look the Orelle woman's way with open bewilderment. "I did not mean he will be deposited literally into your lap or handed over to you on a leash like a pet, Doctor. It is a turn of phrase to be used when one is carefully acknowledging the status of another person's relationship."

Helena shifts her weight from one foot to the other, folding her arms across her chest once more. The carefully manufactured facade of calmness is beginning to crack, and the right corner of her mouth twitches as she fights back the impatience that brims at the edge and threatens to spill over. "Whether you expect it or not, Doctor, I am sure he shall return to you nonetheless."

"I see." Rozlyn frowns somewhat, jaw tensing slightly. "I was unaware that… there was such a status." She looks quite uncomfortable in the moment, her feet shifting slightly. Dark eyes drop to focus at a point on the floor. "You are aware, as am I, that nobility does not… date." Though, love matches form nonetheless. There's a discomfort there. Almost on the edge of fear.

"Ah, yes." The last offered by the doctor inspires a deep breath and Rozlyn shifts on her feet, preparing to depart. Seeking, with a quick glance around, a distraction. "I have no doubts he will return safe." Either she misunderstood once again, or is purposefully misdirecting. There's no telling, with Roz.

Helena's eyes narrow briefly, attempting to determine whether or not Rozlyn is being obtuse on purpose. Her genial nature is one such that she often grants people the benefit of the doubt, so seconds later her expression softens and she shakes her head quickly. "The nuances are, I admit, hard to perceive at times. No, I am aware of the status. It isn't 'dating'. It isn't yet 'courting'. It is a subtle understanding, though, that the interest is there, yes? I wasn't looking to spell it out in so many words, so… we can change the subject now."

If Helena were the type, now would be the time to clasp her hands and begin whistling. She is silent, however, and stares at the same point on the floor that briefly occupies Rozlyn's focus. "Oh, but I probably interrupted you on the way to your lab, Doctor. Please, forgive me for occupying so much of your time. I don't want to keep you from your work any longer."

"Interest." Rozlyn repeats the word, as if tasting it. The introspection it provides leads to a light biting of her lower lip. Finally, with a slow exhale, she gives a nod. "I suppose, yes, that would be it." But then, ah, Helena is offering such a convenient way out. The Orelle straightens, dipping her chin towards the Dalton in appreciation. "All is forgiven, of course. It was a pleasure to meet you directly, Lady Doctor. I wish you luck with your next tablet."

The out is as convenient for Helena as it is for Rozlyn. She dips her head to the Orelle in response, and is already beginning to shuffle away toward the lifts. "Thank you, Doctor. I am sure I have learned my lesson, and shall not go cheap this next time around. Good evening to you." She smiles briefly before turning to depart. Spin on the heel. Find the lifts through the haze of confusion and emotional turmoil. Push button to signal the lift. Go home and curl up in a ball and wish for a different day.

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