The work that Veldin showed him in his lab truly was revolutionary. It had the potential of changing the entire human race for the better, and of course Will saw the value of this. And that was probably why he chose not to ponder what exactly what Claire was and how exactly Veldin had managed to create her in the first place. Of course, Dr. Veldin, as respected as he was, must have known exactly what he was doing with the brain model and Will trusted in that. Veldin sent him back to his lab with some new experiments to run, and Will was very excited to begin them, so he thought no more of it.

And in the weeks that followed, Veldin made sure Will grew even more immersed into the research they were doing with Claire. But it wasn't until one afternoon that Will really saw the full potential of all the work they were doing, and he finally understood why Veldin and Dr. Weiss were interested in his own personal research.

Veldin had started the conversation casually, simply asking Will how his latest experiment was progressing, nodding attentively as Will explained his most recent challenges. "Ah, yes," Veldin said, "But, Will, have you considered what leaps and bounds of progress your studies might show if you were able to replicate them in vivo?"

Will blinked at him, astonished. "You mean...with Claire?" He had never considered it before. Never even fathomed trying his method on a real, living human brain.

"Yes," Veldin affirmed, his eyes alight with the excitement of it. The implications of it were almost incomprehensible.

"We could have the first human brain capable of astounding learning capabilities, superhuman intelligence, with cells that never show signs of age or decline. Memory loss, Alzheimer's, all of it would be eradicated. It would be the pinnacle of humanity. Extraordinary," Will thought out loud in wonderment. Hearing himself speak the words, it still seemed impossible, but yet here he was seeing this groundbreaking research being accomplished firsthand.

He told Claire all about how important this work was as he went into her room to check her vitals and record it in their log. Lately, he had gotten in the habit of talking to her absentmindedly while he worked. He had talked to hamsters and other rodents in his lab throughout graduate school too, so it really wasn't such a strange thing for him. And just like the lab animals, Claire never replied, she only watched him with her large doe-like eyes and compliantly handed her delicate wrist to him when he asked for it so that he could check her pulse rate and record it in his lab notes.

It was a bit all-consuming, the weight of what he was working on at Zenrad, and it preoccupied his thoughts almost all of the time. Will was putting in long hours at the lab and doing little else. In fact, he had managed to meet up with Connie only once to play tennis so far because he simply couldn't find any free time.

Dr. Veldin had asked him about this by way of conversation. "Connie, she's a nice girl, right? Have you two seen much more of each other?"

"Yeah, she is. We played tennis once," Will replied noncommittally.

Veldin was watching him inquisitively, suddenly a little too interested in Will's personal life. "I think there's a men's tennis club on campus too. I could give them your name, and you could, you know, meet some of the guys."

"Thanks, but I really don't have the time," Will told him, eager to drop the subject and get back to science. He wasn't at all interested in meeting anyone else and he simply didn't have the time for recreational things like tennis right now, and if he did, he knew where to find Connie.

Thankfully, Veldin seemed to get the hint and dropped the subject, and they went back to observing Claire through a one-way glass mirror as she sat in a small room with a desk, completing a mathematics worksheet at an astounding rate. Pencil in hand and intently focused, Claire quickly computed the answers to the complex mathematical equations in her head without the use of any calculator and neatly scrawled the numbers down on her paper in rapid succession. When she finished, an alarm sounded and they recorded her times in their log, and she looked up at the glass expectantly as if she knew they were there watching her.

Later in the afternoon, Will returned to his own lab to work on the projects he'd been neglecting lately. He was going to have to find a better balance somehow because he was spending most of his time on Veldin's projects these days, but he certainly didn't want to let his own research fall by the wayside, especially after Veldin hinted perhaps he could begin some of his own research using Claire. But right now he simply didn't have time for both during the regular work day, and soon he discovered he had worked until well after dinner time. Exhausted from the long hours he had put in that day, Will finally decided it was time to head back to his apartment, but not before he went back to Veldin's wing and grabbed some notes he'd forgotten earlier so that he could finish them up before he went to bed.

Everyone else had gone home long ago and the hallways were deserted and silent as he made his way to the other wing and put his palm up to the scanner, the click of the door as it unlocked echoing in the emptiness. Down the wing, Will noticed a door still open, the fluorescent light from the room spilling into the hallway. He could hear a voice murmuring softly from inside, and he wasn't exactly sure why but something about the tone of it, soft and low, just didn't seem quite right to him.

He moved closer, mostly because his notebook was in the room two doors down from the occupied one, but he walked quietly, not really wanting to be heard. As he approached, he recognized the voice speaking. It was Veldin. And Will didn't really mean to eavesdrop, but Veldin was clearly audible to him now as close as he was to the room.

"Come here, Claire, it's time for your exam now, hmm? That's a good girl. You know you're 18 now, a full-grown woman by all accounts. It would be a shame to let that go to waste." Veldin chuckled softly to himself then.

Will, hardly able to comprehend what he was hearing, did not like the velvety tone of Veldin's voice at all. He quickened his pace, wondering if he should clear his throat loudly to make himself known. It was then that Will thought he heard Veldin groan softly, but the noise was drowned out by a much louder shriek of distress that could have only been emitted by Claire.

Now Will did clear his throat and he stomped out in front of the open door just in time to see Veldin with his hands underneath the flimsy hospital-issue gown that Claire wore, groping her breasts in a less than scientific way, and Claire staring back at him with wide, frightened eyes in what was clearly the shockingly human emotion of fear.

Upon hearing Will's heavy footfalls, Veldin quickly pulled back his hands and turned around to face him. "Dr. Veldin," Will said in a harsh, disapproving tone, "What's going on here?" He wouldn't ordinarily speak to Veldin in such a way, but he couldn't control himself at the moment. Will was repulsed by what he had just seen, and surprisingly angry.

If Veldin was at all embarrassed or ashamed, he did not show it. "Will. I was just finishing up rounds. It's late, you should go home," Veldin said somewhat authoritatively.

"I was just grabbing my notebook," Will replied in a cool tone.

"Yes, well. I was just on my way out myself. If you'll excuse me," Veldin finished briskly, striding past him quickly and exiting down the hallway. Will stood rooted to his spot, his fists clenched at his sides, until he heard the heavy door at the end of the hallway click as Veldin left.

It was only then that Will turned toward Claire, who was now standing with her arms crossed tightly over her chest in a defensive posture. Her eyes, still wide with trepidation, did not look through him disinterestedly as they usually did. Instead, they were focused intently on him.

"He should not have done that to you," Will said to her, still shaking with disgust, "It's not right."

Of course, Claire said nothing in response, but she still watched him in an almost questioning manner and Will suddenly found this very unnerving. He had heard her shriek earlier, and he had never heard her make a single noise in all the time he had known her, hadn't really even known she was capable of it. He had also never seen her make eye contact with him like this and it made him very uncomfortable. All Will wanted to do at the moment was leave and return to his apartment so he could process what he had just seen. He assessed Claire briefly, uncertain for a moment what to do since he had never been the last one to leave Veldin's lab. Did she sleep at night here, in this room? There was a bed in here, so Will supposed so.

"Good night," he said then abruptly, and Will left her there alone, shutting the door behind him. The door that he was pretty sure locked from the outside.

Will was sick to his stomach when he returned home, turning over what he had witnessed in his mind. Whatever Veldin had been about to do, it was clearly less than honorable, in fact it was just plain wrong. Will idolized Veldin, but now suddenly he found he had lost a lot of respect for the man. Really, Will hardly knew him at all apart from his published research, and for the first time Will realized that maybe knowing what kind of man he was actually mattered. He didn't want to work for a creep, even a brilliant one.

He made himself a quick dinner in his kitchen and forced himself to eat it even though he didn't really have an appetite for it. The notebook he'd brought home from the lab was sitting on the kitchen island, and Will looked at it but decided maybe he would take a break from work just for one night. He really needed to take a step back and try to relax and clear his mind.

He was already working his stomach into knots when he thought about how he would confront Veldin the next day at work. It didn't seem like the kind of incident that should be brushed under the rug, so Will would have to say something, express his disapproval. But that was such a terrifying thought to him that even though he knew it would be the right thing to do, he had no idea if he would have the courage to actually do it.

It turned out he didn't have to worry about it though, because despite giving him a restless night of sleep and extremely high anxiety in the morning, Veldin wasn't there when Will entered his research wing. Instead, Will encountered Dr. Weiss, who gave him a stern nod of her head in greeting.

"Good morning, Dr. Weiss. Is Dr. Veldin in today?" Will asked, hoping the apprehensiveness he felt wasn't totally obvious in the tone of his voice.

Weiss regarded him, unsmiling, as was her typical humorless way. She really was a severe lady, and to be completely honest, Will was sort of afraid of her. "Not today," Weiss said, "Dr. Veldin is away on business. He will return next week for the next phase of our project using the Claire model."

"Oh, Ok," Will replied, feeling relief washing over him instantaneously, although he felt a little guilty about it. He knew his strong desire to avoid confrontation probably made him a coward.

"Here," Weiss said, not looking up from the stack of papers she was looking at as she handed him a small stack of his own, "Read this. Details for the next phase of research."

And with that she walked away, her shoes clicking on the floor with her quick strides as if she could not be troubled to waste any more of her valuable time with him. She entered the room where he had left Claire the night before, and Will, realizing he had been dismissed, turned and headed back to his own lab.

But he did read the details Weiss gave him on the next phase, a fascinating trial to induce neuroplasticity in the brain, and after lunch he went to help Dr. Weiss prepare the vials of injections that would need to be administered to Claire to begin the study. He didn't see Claire at all that day since there was really no reason for him to, but perhaps he was actually trying to avoid her as well. He was still a little unnerved when he remembered the way she had looked at him the night before.

The next morning however, Dr. Weiss sent him in to record Claire's vitals. When he entered her room, she turned her head toward the motion, but this time she did not bring her eyes up to his face. Finding him of no apparent interest, she turned her head away from him again, staring at the wall in front of her as he recorded her blood pressure and pulse rate. He talked to her quietly anyway, explaining what he was doing as if she were an actual human patient, maybe only because he found this kind of talk comforting to himself. But he was relieved it seemed as if all had returned to normal with her because he still wasn't sure what to make of her strange behavior from the other night.

Dr. Weiss was prepping to give Claire the first injection of the serum they had prepared that afternoon. Will was in one of the rooms down the hall when Weiss went in to do it, and his attention was startled away from the notes he had been taking when he heard the commotion from the other room.

It sounded like an animalistic growl, high-pitched, but fiercely angry. Will could scarcely be sure of what he was hearing, it sounded so out of place in their laboratory. But then he heard Dr. Weiss's authoritative voice commanding, "Now, Claire!", as if she were speaking to a disobedient toddler.

Will got up from his spot immediately to see what the problem was. "Claire!" Weiss was saying, sounding even more distressed now, "Remain still! Stop that at once!"

Claire had backed herself against the wall of the small room, moving herself further away with each step Weiss took at her. She growled a warning, her angelic brow furrowed in anger and baring her teeth at Weiss, who took no heed of the warning. When Weiss had backed her into the corner of the room with nowhere else to go, Claire let out a true deafening scream, swinging her arms wildly in Weiss's direction in fight.

Weiss realized now what Will had come in behind her. She turned to him, looking rather exasperated, "This behavior, it's some sort of flaw in the model. Think nothing of it. We must subdue her."

He had never seen Dr. Weiss so perturbed, nervous even. She took another step toward Claire, syringe still in hand. Claire uttered a long, drawn-out high-pitched noise and then she leapt rather athletically over the cot in the room, crossing to the opposite corner. She eyed Will only briefly, as if considering whether or not to take her chances by moving at him instead as he blocked the only exit to the room but must have decided against it. Instead, she cowered in the corner like a scared animal, still issuing a low warning sound.

For a moment no one moved, and Will was surprised at the amount of anger that had now crept into the expression on Weiss's face, making her even more terrifying than usual. She looked now as if she were about to lunge at Claire with the needle at any moment. Will glanced between her and Claire, strongly feeling the need to intervene.

"Dr. Weiss?" he tried, "May I? Let me try to give her the injection."

Weiss took so long to consider this that at first Will thought she would say no, but then she wordlessly nodded and handed him the syringe. He took it and then, making up his mind, asked Weiss, "Would you try leaving the room for a moment?"

Weiss regarded him with a hint of suspicion but decided to allow it. "As you wish," she said, and took leave.

Now Will looked at Claire, who locked eyes with him in a challenging stare, her chest heaving from exertion. "I don't want to hurt you, Claire," he said to her soothingly. Then he sunk down into the single vinyl-upholstered chair in the room and sighed.

He stared at the ground thoughtfully and began thinking out loud, talking as much for his own benefit as Claire's as he tried to make sense of what had just transpired, "You don't want this injection. But why? I've seen Veldin give you other injections, and you've never behaved this way," he pondered, looking down at the syringe in his hand, "So why reject this one now? I know this injection won't harm you. And this research, surely if you could understand what it means for all of humanity, how important it was, you would comply."

He looked up at her now, still feeling rather thoughtful, and found that Clarie's expression had also softened. She tilted her head at him as if in question, but what was perhaps even more disturbing about this, as if she could understand him. And now, Will wondered. He wondered many things.

He glanced down at the syringe in his hand again, his mind whirling with several chains of thought simultaneously, but the most prominent one was about what the research meant to him. Claire seemed to have calmed down now, so he thought he'd take a chance with her. "Will you let me give you this injection?" he asked, very nicely, and then he waited patiently for her permission before making any movement.

Clarie watched him for only a short moment longer and then she seemed to have decided, because she took a shuffling step toward him and held out her arm compliantly. Will injected her with the serum.