Disclaimer: I don't own Mai HIME. I do own the therapist in this story though. And the receptionist (maybe Sunrise would trade her for Shizuru?). Originally written as part of the International Day (or Weekend) of Femslash 08. Yes, I am very late.
Author's Note: Bear in mind that Shizuru cannot tell the truth about the Carnival (a sure-fire way to be pronounced clinically insane), so she will be lying. It doesn't mean this universe is AU or that I'm a lazy sod who couldn't be bothered to watch the series. So no reviews going; 'WTF, that never happened!?'
Also, I decided that because the therapist is a foreigner and doesn't speak Kyoto-ben, that any words specific to (Shizuru) that dialect will not be translated into English, though other general words or phrases such as 'Hai' or 'So dess ka' will be so as not to jar the pants off everyone. Words like 'Ara' or 'Ookini' just seem a part of Shizuru's identity; I didn't think I could leave them out, so they'll be left in. Other Japanese words will appear if there isn't a suitable substitute-translation.
BTW, the therapist also sticks to using Miss/Ms/Mr titles for people for three reasons; 1) because they are not fully fluent in Japanese and aren't completely certain about correct kun/chan/san/sama/sensei usage (that's why their speech is so formal), 2) because they are a pretty polite person anyway and 3) (this is the main reason) because I decided as an author that it would make it clearer whoever is talking.
Finally: (sorry about the long author's note) I have never been in therapy and only have an A-level in Psychology. This barely qualifies me to glance at someone in a psychologically evaluative way, let alone try to talk them through their issues. Basically don't tear my head off if the therapy procedure sounds like complete and utter bollocks, I'm just going off of books and TV here (potential recipe for disaster).
Read and review.
Session 1 – Fujino Shizuru
A steady knock sounds at the door.
"Come in." A calm voice calls.
The door swings open quietly and closes.
"Ah, a new face –come in. You must be my one o'clock. I'm Dr. Tetsuo; good day Miss Fujino…?"
"Shizuru." There is a rustling of clothing as though a bow is being performed. "Fujino Shizuru. I am pleased to make your acquaintance –Tetsuo-senpai." The flawlessly polite and elegant voice continues smoothly with only the barest of hesitations. "Please take care of me."
"You seem surprised Miss Fujino, is something the matter?"
"Of course not Tetsuo-senpai, please forgive my rudeness."
"…I see. Perhaps it would not be too far off the mark to say you did not expect a foreigner to bear the name 'Tetsuo'?"
"I apologise for any offence I have caused, Tetsuo-senpai." Another rustling of cloth.
"Please Miss Fujino, there is nothing to apologise for." A wry note creeps into the voice. "You have been politer about the matter than most." A pause. "'Tetsuo' is my partner's surname. I decided to take it on as my own upon our marriage."
"You do not have to explain yourself to me Tetsuo-senpai, but thank you."
"Not at all." The gentle voice assures. "Though I believe we've spent enough of your time on me." A slight creak of leather as though someone is leaning forward. "Please be seated wherever you wish Miss Fujino." Another, louder creak and some rustling is heard, as though someone has made themselves comfortable. "Now, why is it you have come to see me?"
"Ara, so straight to the point Tetsuo-senpai."
"You sound wistful, Miss Fujino." The older voice notes.
A startled pause.
"I…Tetsuo-senpai reminded me of someone I know."
"Are you close to this person?"
"Close...We used to…but…I no longer know…"
"Why is that?"
"I hurt her."
"I see. How do you think you hurt her?"
There is a pained silence.
"I would be grateful if I could have a drink, Tetsuo-senpai. I find myself terribly thirsty."
"Of course. Do you have any preference?"
"Tea, if Tetsuo-senpai has any."
"I believe my secretary has green tea or oolong."
There is a fraction of a pause.
"Miss Fujino…I want you to know there is no need for you to hide behind your perfect mask of politeness here. You are completely safe; the matters you choose to discuss with me are entirely confidential and will not leave this room. I want to help you...but you must let me do so." A chair is pushed back, loudly scraping along the floor. "Please excuse me for a moment."
A door opens and closes quickly. Silence reigns for a moment, and then a shaky exhalation of air is audible, followed by a muted nervous swallow.
Several minutes pass before the door swiftly opens again.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
"Not at all. Ookini for the tea, Tetsuo-senpai." The younger voice is unruffled, no trace of distress disturbing it.
"Ah, I thought I recognised your accent. Kyoto-ben is it not?"
"How perceptive Tetsuo-senpai is. Your own is British I believe?"
"Indeed Miss Fujino –though a surprising number of people have mistaken me for an American–, so I must apologise if I abuse your ears with my poor Japanese. I have lived in England most of my life."
"May I ask why Tetsuo-senpai left?"
An amused note enters the older voice at some private joke. "I wanted to see the world."
"And did you?"
"As they say in the West; 'The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry', Miss Fujino."
The younger voice now sounds amused as well. "Indeed."
"But if they hadn't, I would not be here now in your delightful company, so I believe some good has come of it."
"Tetsuo-sensei is wise indeed." The words are delivered with complete innocence.
"Ah! I am fortunate indeed if you feel comfortable enough to tease me." A delighted note enters the older voice.
"Tetsuo-sensei must be mistaken, for I was being entirely serious." Only a barest hint of laughter threatens to ruin the otherwise serious statement.
"Is that so? Then I apologise sincerely, Miss Fujino." A considering pause, then the gentle voice continues less humorously; "Perhaps you can tell me what really brought you here this time, Miss Fujino. Without the evasions."
A tired sigh escapes the younger, suddenly more vulnerable, voice.
"It…it is hard Tetsuo-senpai, when you betray the one most precious to your heart."
"Is that what you believe you have done?"
"It is what I know I have done."
"I see. And how did you betray this 'precious person'?"
"I…only wanted to protect her. To keep her safe. From everything and anyone who wished her harm." The younger, usually so serene voice is faster and less controlled, clearly desperate in its need to be understood. "To that end, I would do anything to keep her from harm…but…" A quick, almost silent breath is drawn, "…in the end, it was I who hurt her most of all."
"What was it you did?"
"I forced my unwanted feelings on her." Although the controlled voice sounds calm on the surface, underneath is an edge of deep-rooted pain.
"Please Miss Fujino…there is no need for tears. I am not here to judge you, or your actions." There is a creak of leather as someone stands and footsteps as they move lightly across the floor. "I am here to help you understand –and accept– them."
"Tetsuo-senpai is very kind." The words sound hollow and devoid of emotion.
"'Tetsuo' is very well paid," corrects the soothing voice with gentle humour. "also, she cannot bear to watch pretty girls cry." It lowers to a faux-conspiratorial whisper. "It is one of her greatest weaknesses."
A reluctant chuckle escapes.
"Ah, see. That is much better. A smile suits you Miss Fujino; you should do so more often. Doctor's orders."
"It is nothing." The voice reassures. "Tell me about this 'precious person' of yours."
"She is not mine."
"I think you would agree she is more your 'precious person' than mine, is she not?"
"Then, if you would be so kind…?"
There is a tense silence, stretching to almost breaking point then:
"Her name is Natsuki."
"Natsuki is very beautiful."
"I find it interesting you say that; especially as I was simply referring to her name."
"Please do not feel embarrassed, Miss Fujino. Your feelings are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of." A pause. "No matter what society might have you believe."
"Not at all, please, continue."
"I met Natsuki three and a half years ago…" a soft, happy note enters the girl's voice. "Natsuki was different to everyone else. So cold. So distant. So very beautiful." A dry chuckle. "Despite Natsuki's 'cool' personality…she has a very adorable blush…and is surprisingly easy to tease..." The younger voice sobers as the laughter fades away. "But I could see what Natsuki was hiding behind these masks...Natsuki was hurting and alone."
"Forgive me, Miss Fujino, but I cannot help but notice that you are particularly articulate and intelligent for a girl of your age and –if I might be so bold– there is no denying your beauty or impeccable manners. Admittedly, my knowledge of the Japanese school system is somewhat lacking..but tell me, would I be correct in assuming you are quite…sought after at school? Admired? Perhaps you have –what is the word...stalkers? Obsessed fans? No, perhaps I mean admirers..." The older voice muses, clearly struggling with the translation.
"No more than Kanzaki-san or Natsuki…" The younger voice sounds as though its owner may be concealing a smile. "Although Natsuki's admirers keep their distance now, after her first, ah…incident…with Takeda-san."
"I believe you are being overly modest, Miss Fujino, but regardless, would I also be correct in concluding that these...admirers...? consider you to be 'perfect'?"
"Ara, Tetsuo-senpai, you flatter me." The younger voice takes on a teasing, falsely flustered tone.
"I doubt many things truly make you blush Miss Fujino." The calm voice replies, obviously amused despite itself. "But it must be quite a burden to bear the weight of so many people's expectations, must it not?"
A telling silence falls.
"Would I be also correct in inferring that you felt connected to Miss Natsuki because you understood what it was like to hide your loneliness behind a façade? That you wanted someone you could be yourself with, without them constantly expecting perfection? Someone who would treat you normally –a true friend."
A brief pause.
"Ara, Tetsuo-sensei is very perceptive." The words are light, but contain a faint note of strain.
"I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable Miss Fujino; I'm just trying to help you see where the root of your feelings for Miss Natsuki lie. A background if you will, to understand how things led to where we are today."
"I see." The words are flat; dull.
Neutrally; "You still feel lonely; do you not, Miss Fujino." It wasn't a question. "Will you tell me what happened?"
A tense pause.
"I fell in love." A shaky breath hisses out. "And Natsuki did not even seem aware of it." Another quick breath is drawn. "Natsuki has…had…a very heavy burden to bear. It kept her apart from everyone else. Natsuki refused to fully trust anyone. Even me. Although, I believe Natsuki let me come closer than most."
"Why do you think that?"
"There were times when the ice surrounding Natsuki melted…and I could see that she cared for me. I ran for the position of Student President so I would able to access the confidential files Natsuki needed for an important school project. Natsuki had not asked me to do such a thing; I believe it never occurred to her...But when she found out I had won…Natsuki didn't even ask about the higher access levels. She was just pleased I had succeeded in the competition. Natsuki was proud of me." A note of true happiness lights the girl's words. "…later I discovered I was also her most precious person."
"I find myself at a loss, Miss Fujino." A definite note of confusion is audible in the calm voice. "If you are both each others 'precious person', as you say…how can your feelings be unwelcome?"
"My love and Natsuki's love are different." The words are flat and filled with a deep pain.
"Is that so." The tone is completely neutral. "And how does your 'betrayal' come into all of this?"
"Natsuki was injured in a gang fight; she was badly hurt. I fought off Natsuki's attackers and rescued her."
"I am impressed Miss Fujino, you must be extremely skilled."
"My father insisted I receive naginata training since childhood."
"A difficult weapon to master I'm told. But extremely good for building discipline."
The words: but not a weapon one generally carries around for casual usage, hang unspoken.
"Just so." A faintly amused note teases at the edges of the elegant voice. The silent question remains unanswered. "Natsuki was barely conscious when I finally saved her, but I knew that she hated hospitals –and the questions they ask…so I took Natsuki to a place where no one would find her…a safe place…" The words trail off into silence.
"What happened at this place, Miss Fujino?"
"I-I was worried about Natsuki. Her injuries weren't serious, but most of the time she was unconscious or barely coherent. I had to change her out of her torn clothing into a kimono…and I, I enjoyed it." An almost palpable loathing colours the words. "I enjoyed Natsuki letting me look after her. I enjoyed caring for her. I enjoyed pretending. I did not want us to leave the sanctuary I'd brought us to…"
"I understand, you wished to protect your friend." The older voice calmly assures. "There is nothing to feel guilty about for that, Miss Fujino. Then what happened?"
"Natsuki woke up. And asked me why I was looking after her. I told Natsuki that she was my friend and I loved her and-and Natsuki told me that she loved me too…but I knew…" The words trail off.
"What did you know?"
The voice is barely above a whisper and trembles with tears. "That our loves were…different…and Natsuki would never love me the way I longed for her to."
"Miss Fujino." The words are merely a reminder that the speaker is not alone.
"It was evening when I brought Natsuki tea…the sun was setting and the light reflected perfectly off her beautiful hair…Natsuki had fallen asleep…I only wanted her to come inside from the cold, but…" The sentences are disjointed, as though their speaker is barely aware of the words spoken as they relive the moment. "As I leant over, Natsuki's lips were slightly parted…as though begging me to…I could not stop myself." A shuddering breath is drawn. "I-I stroked Natsuki's cheek…so soft…then, then I leant in…and I…kissed her." The breath is violently released in a ragged sob. "Kanin na, Natsuki! Kanin na! Please…please…kanin na Natsuki…"
The only audible sound is that of heartbroken sobbing.
There is a frantic flurry of movement as someone stands and flees the room as the door slams violently shut.
There is a silence.
Then a deep, regretful sigh followed by a loud creak as though someone is leaning back in a stiff chair.
An intrusive buzz interrupts the heavy silence.
"Yes, Ms. Saki? What is it?"
"Tetsuo-senpai, your two-fifteen is here."
A brief pause as another tired sigh is smothered.
Sotto voce; "Of course he is." More loudly; "Thank you Ms. Saki, please send in Mr. Nakamoru."
"Oh, and Ms. Saki…? Please inform me if Miss Fujino makes another appointment."