8614/A Most Interesting Client

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A Most Interesting Client
Date of Scene: 09 November 2021
Location: Jonathan Sims' office, Queens
Synopsis: Melina Vostokoff comes to talk to Jon at his Queens office in the most direct way possible--by breaking through a window. She asks for help, but she's not quite ready. They do find some common ground before she goes back out the window once more.
Cast of Characters: Melina Vostokoff, Jonathan Sims

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
It's been a few days that she's been watching the psychologist, having heard that SHIELD got a 'shrink' on staff. If he was good enough for her daughter, then maybe he'd be good enough for her. But, she's certainly not going to go to the Triskelion, so it's back at his Queen's office that she's already invited herself in. Not through any front door, but a window expertly broken into and then shut again.

When he walks into the room, he'll find a perfectly innocent, almost too innocent, looking woman there. High mom-jeans, a white camisole beneath a blue button down, her hair in some neat crown braids and her face that somehow ageless of someone who is well taken care of, who could be anywhere between her mid thirties or mid fifties. If he has a panic button, she's already disabled it. Along with his intercom. She also has a gun in her hand, levelled quietly at him. "I need your help." Her accent is faintly Russian, even in those few words.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    This is actually Jon's first proper day back at the office, and he... wasn't really supposed to have any clients. His secretary out in the front room didn't know anyone was there, and when the woman broke in Jon was chatting with Rosie about their reduced client load, what days he'll be taking patients, and so on. He's having to juggle his old work around SHIELD and such, after all.

    He's only stepped into the office proper to grab some files. Blinks at the gun levelled at him, heart rate rapidly elevating. Clears his throat. His voice is /admirably/ steady as he says, "On second thought, Rosie? Take an early lunch. I've got more to deal with than I thought." There's a trace of crackling static overlaying the words, a solidity as the telepathic compulsion to /go/ hits Rosie.

    Then he closes the door, firmly, with his foot, keeping his secretary /well/ away from this woman who managed to get into his office without tripping alarms and does not look like someone who should be sitting there holding him at gunpoint. "I might be more inclined to help," he says, voice now shaky, "if not for the, ahh, weapon."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
A slight nod of approval comes from Melina as he mentions to his secretary to take the early lunch. That seems to have been the right move in very dangerous, too normal looking woman's mind. She waits in silence, gun still out, for the sound of the woman leaving the building to echo through into the office. The faint crackle from his voice -- or was it the intercom she broke -- gets a little narrowed, curious gaze from Melina, but she still doesn't speak.

When the very feel of the air around them is empty other than the pair in the office, she looks him up and down once more before casually slipping the safety back on her gun and shifting it away into her cardigan. From the way it drapes, the outline of the gun can't even be seen. A tight smile crosses her mauve painted lips, "I do not suspect they train you enough to be much of a danger, yet, physically at least. I do not need gun to protect myself. Remember that. But... you feel better?" Her accent is quite noticable, the more words she speaks. She also has the bitterly, tiredly amused at the world tone to her voice that many old Russians do.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "A little," Jon says, and his voice is a /tad/ steadier. Just a tad. "Guns trigger a natural amygdala response in most people who know what they are." He clears his throat and, after a brief hesitation, goes to sit down in his own chair. He frowns as he looks the woman over, trying to parse things together. Russian, gun that she hides well, broke in--spy? Okay, reasonable, and he doesn't know much about HYDRA but he's working for SHIELD now so two and two make four...

    "Whatever information you might be hoping to torture out of me, I'm afraid I don't have much. Might not be worth your time." Despite the shakiness of his voice, his tone is wry, snarky. He's spent enough time around capes and spies that he's already picked up on the habit of snarking at danger.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
"I know. Though, I should shut it... off for you, if you wish. But, I needed you to know how serious I was and that this is... not a joke." Melina's offer to shut off his brain's natural response seems utterly serious. She's not joking, or bragging, but stating it like a dead pan fact. She can just do that to people, somehow. Maybe she's a mutant? She looks him up and down for another moment before shifting in her chair and recrossing her legs. She's trying to look casual. She is not good at it when she is being herself.

"I... do not wish information from you. I need your *help*. You are... Psychologist, yes? Therapist? You help with minds?" She motions one slender hand at her own head.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon just... gapes at Melina for a long moment. "Wh... you can..." No, that's not /actually/ helpful, he's /supposed/ to experience fear. Thanks, Thoth. He blinks slowly, and then manages to catch up with the conversation fully.

    "Oh! Yes, I am a psychiatrist, specifically. A medical doctor with a focus on mental health. Sometimes what I do is talk therapy, sometimes there are medications involved, and I'm also able to narrow down physiological causes for psychological problems. Is there a reason you didn't... call and make an appointment...?" He can guess, but clarification is good.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
"I can. That is the easy part. It is stopping the damage which is hard. But... that is of no matter. I suppose it is not much different than your brain medications. It is only more... controlling. And effective. I do good work." Melina states flatly, a quiet edge of pride behind it. "If this goes well, some day I show you my pigs." Also not a lie, rolling off her tongue like that is a perfectly normal thing to say.

"Calling is... complicated. I do not think SHIELD would be happy to see me. They may wish to lock me up and that will help no one. But... my old employers, they also have eyes many places. It is safer this way, for both of us. No traces. I do not leave a trail. You understand?"

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon nods. "I do, actually. I've had many clients in my career who've had to have absolute discretion. And I have perfect recall, so I can refrain from even taking notes." Because even heavy encryption can be broken into.

    He shifts a bit in his chair, considering for a moment. If the woman is so desperate for help as to break into his office, he feels bound to offer the help. And he's /curious/. So he smiles, just a bit, and puts on his 'therapist' voice. "So... ahh... I'm Jonathan Sims, as you might know. Most people call me Jon. Can you... tell me why you need my help?"

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
While she tried to look relaxed, it didn't much work. And as he dares to dive into this, she uncrosses her legs and sits forward in the chair she's chosen, elbows on her knees. She looks like a crouched big cat, lithe and dangerous, able to pounce at any moment but now just watching the horizon and considering what might be prey.

"You swear...on your life, this does not leave this office? I will trust your discrection. I do not wish to kill you, but I will, if I must. You understand?" Just a quiet, flat promise. The simple way of the world. But she needs his reassurance. "Unless I tell you to tell them something, you. Do. Not."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon nods quite firmly. He doesn't even look fazed by the threat--well, not /much/. Not that he doesn't believe her, but that it's an easy thing to promise. "I swear. To break that promise would violate my ethical principles, which is more dangerous for me than you might think. No one else will know what is said here." He doesn't bother with things like 'reporting danger to the authorities' with people who the authorities can't do much with. It doesn't help with trust, for one thing, and it's not like Melina's going through the usual channels.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
It's silence between them for a few quickened heartbeats, other than her slightly shallow breath that probably matches is, even if he's taking all of this pretty well. Melina finally gives a slight nod and forces herself to sit back in the chair across from him. Her arms are still on her thighs, fingertips squared infront of her.

"My name... as far as I know it, is Melina Vostokoff. I have been then Red Room's premier neuroscientist for almost seven decades now, from what I have pieced together. They keep taking... parts of my memories. They keep putting me through the training again... and again... And again. Because I do not want to be there. But I do not have other... choices. I am only here because the drug I made -- for them -- the one that takes all your choice. All your mind, your emotions, the one that makes you a perfect puppet? I inoculated myself, before they used it on me. But they still... took my memories, again..."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    The thing about it is, Jon's had training and practice at hearing these kind of awful things. He interned at Arkham, so he's definitely had death threats from patients before. Many of his other patients have been through terrible things, or /done/ terrible things. So he manages to keep his face impassive, sympathic, despite the horror of what Melina says.

    "Are you hoping to get your memories... back?" He asks quietly. "Or merely hoping to figure out how to... function with those holes in continuity?"

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
For the first time since this interview started, those green hazel eyes dip away from the man across from her. Melina looks uncertain. In truth, she looks like a broken teenage girl, lost in time, who has no real answers to any of this. She swallows back tightly. "I...do not know. I want my daughter... Safe. She is not mine... not... blood, but... She is with you all now. Just... keep her safe. Yelena. She deserves better than... This." And then she's standing, like she's getting ready to go. Something in her realized this was a bad idea.

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    Jon holds up a hand. "Wait! I..." He stands. His tone has gone back to normal. "Look, I'm... I'm a telepath. And I would /hardly/ expect you to allow me to go rummaging in your head when we've just met. But I think I might be able to help you, in the long term, once we've built up some trust."

    His tone hardens a little. "What you say was done to you is /unconscionable/. You deserve help. You deserve to... have your memory restored, or learn who you are without those memories, or whatever it is you need. I'm willing to risk the danger to help you." Even though she pulled a gun on him, yes. He's like that. "Maybe you're not ready for that. But when you are, I'm willing to try to help."

    A pause. "Your daughter, Yelena... she's with SHIELD? I'll look in on her, for certain."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
The woman stares at him with a look that she would consider dangerous but, to a trained psychiatrist such as him, it's far more like an injured animal. Melina's wounded, psychically, deeply. Again and again. And she's waiting for the next injury. Only, it seems they have all been in her mind. At least, there is no show of them on her incredibly fit, ageless looking frame. She takes in a slow breath through her nose, forcing her psychological responses to remain calm.

"Y-yes. Yelena. Belova. She... deserved better. Just watch...after her. Please. I am..." She shakes her head slowly, eyes dropping to the ground as she begins to back up towards the window. "It is too late for me. It has been... for some time. You are nice boy, Jonathan Sims. Do not let SHIELD turn you into puppet also. They are no better, deep down. None of us are."

Jonathan Sims has posed:
    "It's never too late," Jon says firmly. "Not /ever/. Please, come back if..." He closes his eyes a moment. Sighs. When he opens them, he says, "Be well, Melina."

    After a moment, he adds, "There are other powers that have a claim on me. Hard for SHIELD to turn one into a puppet when a god's pulling the strings." He smiles wryly. "But I'll take your statement under advisement. Thank you."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
A bitter, strangely understanding smile ghosts across her tired features. For a moment, she looks the near 100 years old that she actually is. The weight of ages and blood on her shoulders. "Then we are both not people, but simply puppets to powers we will never knock from their towers. I hope your dance is better than mine." And then Melina's popping the window open without even having to look. She's highly skilled, she knows the lock now. She slides out and over, the motions of her body that of a highly trained dancer. She's gorgeous to watch, as she disappears from the room, the window's lock somehow slotting back in place from the outside a moment before her shadow goes.