Title: Sleek Zinc Tracings
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: By now I'd be rewarded for my skill, as artists must.
Notes: No spoilers
Ivy could say she didn't know what it was she signed up for, that she was horrified when she realized what, exactly, the house really was. She didn't know, point of fact, but she didn't care, either. Did any other neuroscientists care about their rats? Or pigs, or monkeys, or whatever animal-of-the-week PETA was selling on a T-shirt.
On her smoke break, she did hack into the server, just a little bit, to read over the contract template. It seemed pretty fair, and the small print was explicit, in an HBO Real Sex kind of way.
The way she figured it, if they signed up for it, why should she feel bad?
She never designed imprints. She had doctorates in neurochemistry and behavioral neuroscience, as well as half a doctorate in abnormal psychology, but all Topher trusted her to do properly was stock up on SunChips and Java Monster.
But he was the genius-in-charge, and even if she wanted to kick him in the balls three times before lunch, she'd tortured her own share of grad students, and this was the way the system worked. She kept her rebellion at low simmer, grumbled about her crappy job, and eventually, Topher might die.
Until then, she leaned against the wall and watched him patch together the brain chemistry of the perfect agent of scuba-diving industrial espionage. He took elements from seven different profiles, transformed the code, and loaded it up. It took him ninety-seven minutes, and when he was done, he raised his hand and snapped his fingers. "Ivy!"
She pushed away from the wall. "Don't ever do that again."
"Oh." He turned, only slightly surprised. "Whatever. The imprint's ready, so tell Lima's handler to pull her from finger-painting for prep."
Ivy nodded, then checked her watch. "It's two."
Topher raised his eyebrows. "Yeah?"
"You missed lunch." She schooled her face to impassivity. "I can run the treatment."
Topher snorted. "Yeah. Right."
Ivy flipped him off, but he didn't notice.
She hated night shift, but Yankee was due for retrieval, and she was pretty sure Topher had been hitting ODST for most of the past thirty hours. She loaded Yankee's latest imprint onto her laptop and tried to reverse engineer the neurochemical markers of philanthropy.
The lab extension rang, and she groped left-handed for the phone, hit the button for speakerphone. "Yeah?"
"Good evening." A pause. "Where is Topher?"
"Ms. DeWitt." Ivy slid the laptop onto the sofa. "Topher is..." She cocked her head, heard a faint explosion, and Topher shouting, Take that, you Covenant bastards! "He's taking a quick break, ma'am. Is there anything I can do?"
"Well," DeWitt said, "Yankee was pulled early, so he'll be needing his treatment in about twenty minutes. I trust you'll take care of it."
A click, and then the dial tone.
"Okay." Ivy shut her laptop, and started running through the procedure, twice and forwards. In the pit below, lights brightened, and a security goon and a medic jogged towards the elevator. She booted up the main computers and dusted off the chair. "Topher," she yelled.
By the time he answered her, Yankee was mumbling as he slid into the chair, and the gigs are ready to download. "What ever happened to don't touch anything?" Topher complained. But he scanned over her work, even triple-checked the safeguards. He didn't find mistakes, because she hadn't made any.
He looked at her, and she smirked.
"Fine," he said. "But if Yankee's head explodes, it'll be your fault."
"Whatever," Ivy replied, and when Topher initiated the sequence, she didn't even hold her breath.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Ed Allen's Her Bathroom Mirror.
Linked on choc_fic.