Twelve and Quinita arrived in Atlanta after a nearly 2-hour-long flight. They arrived around 2 pm and were on their way to the Center for Disease Control. 

Today, Quinita was wearing her long, stretchy emerald green skinny jeans, some cute black flats with gold fixtures on them, a purple smartwatch, and an oversized, but feminine black cable-knit pullover sweater. Her entire outfit made her honey-toned skin color pop. She decided to wear her hair thick, curly hair in a long braid down her back, pearl earrings, and a bold red lip. Her brown eyes blinked behind her big, pink glasses.

She smelled like money.

Drew made sure to keep everything internal, working with the university to help Quinita, so he made sure to have a car and driver ready for her when she arrived in Atlanta.

This driver was a lot older and quiet. So, there was no friendly conversation to be had with him. He even rolled his eyes when he saw that Twelve was accompanying her, wearing a vest that read “RESEARCH ASSISTANT”.

The driver dropped the duo off at the front of the building.

“Just text me when you’re ready,” he said, driving off afterward.

And that was the end of that.

Quinita carried Twelve along with her into the building, and before she could set one toe in the door, she was greeted immediately.

“Dr. Jones!” said a cheerful, blonde-haired woman. Her eyes were so green and bright, Quinita imagined that they must smell like spearmint breath mints, “It’s a pleasure to have you here! I’m Dr. Novorski, or you can just call me Claudia! And how do you pronounce your name?” she asked patronizingly.

“You didn’t think to clear that up with Drew before I arrived?” Quinita was thinking to herself.

“People who don’t care to pronounce your name don’t give a damn about you, always remember that,” Quinita remembered her Grandma always telling her.

“Quinita…” she finally replied to Claudia, “….kwuh-NEE-tuh with a Q, like queen.”

“Oh, how exotic!” said Claudia.

“The ignorance is real with this one.” Quinita thought to herself.

“Come on in! We’ll get you all situated,” Claudia said, “this is Dr. Williamson, he will be your tour guide for most of your stay,” she explained while motioning her hand toward the man. 

He was very tall, double deep-skinned, goatee, pearly whites, and built just right.

And, he was wearing glasses, just to top it all off. 

Quinita was melting…he was her whole life savings!

“Can I… you with that?” he asked Quinita, pointing at the kennel she just placed on the ground.

“Uhhh…sure!” Quinita replied, she was dumbfounded.

“Unbelievably beautiful!” she thought to herself, “Thanks,” she said to him.

“Not a problem, Dr. Jones. I’m Montravious, by the way. You can call me Tray.”

“I’m Quinita…Q” she responded.

“Nice name,” Tray said, “Where are you from? I sense a fellow Southern accent,” he said, with a friendly grin.

“Well, I cain’t heyulp  mysayulff!” Quinita responded with an extremely exaggerated Southern drawl. She was weird like that.

Tray released a loud laugh that came from his heart, “oh my God! You’re hilarious!”

Quinita was also laughing. She didn’t mind being her goofball self no matter where she went.

“I’m from Tampa, Florida,” she said after catching her breath.

“Oh?!” Tray asked, “Born and raised?”

“Yes sir!” she responded proudly.

“How cool, I have family in Florida! One of my uncles lives in Tampa, but the others down there are in Orlando and Miami.”

“Wow!” Quinita responded, “Have you ever been there?”

“It’s been a little while, but I went to Tampa when I was younger and went to the theme parks. My uncle took me to this one place to eat down there, they had thee BIGGEST pancakes!”Tray said, “It was called Three Corners, Three…Three…Three somethin’.” he struggled.

“Three Coins Diner?” Quinita asked.

“Thaaaat’s it!” Tray responded, relieved from thinking too hard.

“I go there all the time!”

“It’s still there after all this time?” he was like a kid in a candy store.

“Of course it is! It’s  one of the best places to eat in the Bay Area!”

“Awwww man! Don’t tell me that!” Tray said, “I gotta go back there, and soon!”

“Well, I see you two have gotten well acquainted!” A voice came from behind, surprising them.

“Hey, uh…Claudia…yeah, we were just—” Tray tried to explain.

“—Did you show her around the lab and the office?” Claudia said, with this stern look that’s reminiscent of an angry first grade teacher.

“I–I was just getting to it, we were j–”

“–well get to it, hurry up, we don’t have time!” Claudia urged as she then turned around and quickly walked out the room, turning down the hallway.

“What’s with her?” asked Quinita.

“She’s always uptight like that,” Tray said, “especially with me…I’m the only black person on the team.”

Quinita could already imagine what he was dealing with.

Luckily, back at her research office, she had David as somewhat of an ally.

“Come on, let me finish giving you the tour,” he said, looking a bit discouraged, straightening his white, lab coat.

“Don’t let her get you down. It’s my fault.” Quinita said, smiling.

“Nah, you’re okay,” he said as the light came back to his face.

He showed Quinita one of the lab areas where there were several scientists working with beakers, bunsen burners, bright and oddly colored liquids, microscopes, and Petri dishes with microbes that Quinita wasn’t familiar with.

They walked into the conference room. Tray pointed at a door towards the back of the room with a warning sign on it. 

“That’s where all the real stuff goes down. You’ll have to suit up to go in there,” he said to Quinita.

“What about the new discovery?” Quinita asked.

“What new discovery?”

“It was all over the news late last night…” Quinita said, “… there are potential cures for different diseases….that’s why I’m here.”

Tray was sincerely confused.

“I honestly don’t know about that, Q. I think maybe Claudia is the one who can tell you about it,” he said, gesturing his hands in confusion, “I’m sorry.”

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