Beautiful Experiment

Chapter 3

For a government hospital with a confidential high security, the place looked a bit common. In fact, it looked almost normal, but Leon supposed that was part of the nature of this place. This way, Manuela could integrate back into life while still under her treatments. Still, seeing a pair of guards within spitting distance of the curb was a tad unsettling.

The building itself was multi-leveled, split by wards. It had adopted the new age large windows, though it was still the clean white of traditional hospitals. The flora outside was fairly standard ferns and the like. Certainly no Beverly Hills palm tree style facade. It even had a parking complex off to one side, dwarfing one side and shading it in darkness.

After having experienced smells of a more offensive variety, Leon was amused to find he still found the hospital smell as strange as ever. The lobby was tiled, with alternating white and blue to provide the only break-up in the otherwise smooth room. After checking in with the desk worker, Leon had been told to hang out for a bit. Manuela still had to have her morning routine.

So he had wandered into an adjoining cafe, no doubt to service family and friends. He indiscriminately ordered a coffee and bagel, sitting down at a table far out of the way so he wouldn’t be bothered. Sipping his coffee, Leon took out the papers that had been forwarded to him late in the night.

They outlined the basic outline of the program that Manuela would be participating in. A large portion of it seemed to be a placeholder for time they could use to test her blood work, pitting it against various things. Not in her of course, but rather, with drawings. Once they figured out how to remove it without burning everything to the ground that was.

Once the screenings were done, and they had no need of her for blood, they would be free to discharge her. That was where the placeholder time came in. During the testing period, they would make sure she was capable of melding into civic life without worry. Simulations and practices would take up a lot of the time, and seeing as Leon would be her “guardian”, he’d be assisting in a number of those endeavors.

Leon didn’t like the idea of the government having her blood, even if the t-Veronica had gone dormant in her bloodstream. He knew from experience that power like that tends to corrupt even those with the best intentions, and he had no illusions about the US government being any different.

“Mr. Kennedy, they’re ready now” came the voice of the receptionist over the intercom. Leon hastily tucked the papers back into a pocket, throwing out his trash as he re-entered the lobby. The receptionist motioned towards one of the hallways, and Leon set his expression as he noticed a man in a suit waiting for him.

“Follow me” he said simply, turning about. Leon watched him suspiciously, feeling as though he was under constant watch. He wouldn’t have been too surprised if he had been jumped then and there by armed men.

But no such thing happened as they surmounted a stairwell, and stopped in front of a second floor room. Leon noted with a small smile that it was just across the hall from the courtyard, and that there were benches spread about the hall. The suit made no motion other than standing off to one side of the door, so Leon took it upon himself to knock.

“Who is it?” Leon couldn’t help but smile at the voice from within.

“Who else would it be?” he retorted as he cracked the door. “May I come in?” After hearing confirmation, Leon pushed open the door, only to be caught in a hug. Realizing what was going on, Leon chuckled and gently put a hand on the girl’s head as she looked up at him with a smile. “Well look who’s up.”

“Nice to see you too Leon” she returned, returning to her bedside. Leon noticed that not all the equipment had been carted away yet, and on one of the rolling tables, he noticed yet more bloodwork devices. How much did they need? Manuela was fine, the virus had subsided, and here she was. They had the results to prove it. The agent’s warning came to his mind. He’d stay quiet on the matter, for now.

“How has your morning been? Hopefully they’ve been taking care of you.”

“It’s only been one day Leon. Calm down” she laughed. “You make it sound like I’m a hostage.” Not far off it seems, Leon thought grimly. “Besides, compared to only a day ago, this is heaven” she sighed, falling back onto the bed, smiling slightly.

Leon couldn’t help but feel better at the sight. Yet he couldn’t push aside all of his doubts, but he certainly wasn’t going to trouble Manuela with those. “You had breakfast yet? And if the answer is hospital food, then that’s a no” he smiled.

Manuela shook her head. “There’s a place on the first floor that serves food. Can I get you anything?” he asked at the door. He felt a bit bad about leaving her alone just as he arrived, but as they said, breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

“I’ll let you pick something. I don’t really know what they serve.” Her smile made Leon reconsider, but he was gonna be damned before she ate hospital food. Wouldn’t want her to get the wrong impression of the states.

Still, he found himself walking faster than normal, particularly on the stairs. He could feel the difference in his stride, and it didn’t bother him. He soon found himself back in the cafe in shorter time than it had taken him to get up to the room. The cashier looked up, surprised.

“Was something the matter with the food sir?” the man asked.

“No, just picking something up for a friend of mine. What do you have with fruit?”

Leon gazed into the empty room, a feeling that was a mixture of confusion and concern rising in him. In one hand, he held a ready to make cereal, and in the other, blueberries to add to the mixture. He was just about to throw them aside and toss the room when the guard at the corner coughed discreetly.

“Courtyard” he muttered, acting as if he had said nothing. Leon nodded to him, glancing out the window. He spotted Manuela below, sitting on one of the benches. She noticed him and smiled apologetically, giving a wave.

Leon squinted as he exited the doors, the light just cresting over the top of the far wall as the day moved on. Manuela had chosen a spot in the sun, seemingly unperturbed by the sunlight. After a lifetime living on the equator, this must be nothing, he thought. “Hey there.”

“Sorry about that. I saw that the sun was coming out, so I thought I should enjoy it. I asked the guard if it was okay to come down here, and he said yes.” Nice of him to tell me. Leon took a spot beside her on the bench, passing her the cereal container and blueberries.

“Figured you’d like something with fruit. Not sure if you had blueberries much down there, but up here they’re about the only fruit we can grow.” Manuela thanked him, opening the small container, and set about mixing the bits. Leon deposited the fork into the bowl and reclined, giving her room and time.

Manuela dipped the spoon in, taking up a bite. She chewed thoughtfully, then beamed. Swallowing, she turned, her eyes flickering in delight. “This is wonderful! Thank you Leon!”

Leon just smiled and nodded. “Any time.” As Manuela ate, Leon turned his eyes to the clearing sky. The silence in the courtyard was a nice variety of quiet he had almost forgotten and it wasn’t even by comparison to Raccoon City. When every day was spent in a job where you sat on edge waiting for someone to come at you with a gun, it was a lightening experience to be able to breath the air.
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