"If you'd said your cephalochips are malfunctioning, I'd have taken your word for it," Skovgard said assuringly. By instinct he scratched at the squarish scars chiseled into his neckline. Four or five decades later the lines were still crisp like a new tattoo, and sometimes they still itched like one to have been reminded of. His slender hand then had moved to press down at the paper upon the desk, and slide it slowly back to his side of the desk, the authoritative side. He wanted to look at it again. But his was a gentle touch, and if she resisted, hoarding the chart to herself, then his finger slipped impotently off of it.
But besides that, he wore his dejection in his face. He didn't like throwing pills at his agents, wrapping their issues in bleached hospital sheets and drowning them in designer chemicals. That didn't tackle the sources of their problems; it was a bandage on a bullethole, granting only an illusion of remedy. No, she needed something more old-fashioned to soothe her frayed brains, digging right into the roots. The solution lied within her, somewhere, behind the makeup and the cutting-edge fashions in which she clothed herself.
"Ona,—if you'll let me call you that—I watched the readings in real-time while I had Mr. Elliott on the phone. You entered a fight-or-flight response when you received the news." He pointed at the spike in the orange line, thin and lean like a stiletto. "Of course being nervous was natural then. You probably thought you were in trouble. I hoped that once your body purged all the excess NA, things would go relatively back to normal, but as of fifteen minutes ago, your body is still spending progesterone to create cortisol. One is low and the other is much too high, you see. Stress—yes, you're very stressed. And I hope we can come to a way to solve that problem together. Any ideas?"
He looked up at the clock; not very long after nine, and the chart only went to nine sharp. But he could assume rather reasonably that nothing had changed in that scarce interim. She realized that during this diatribe, his stiff fingers had steepled themselves, forming a sharp arch like a little belfry upon his desk.